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Dredger's Weekly Report - Walleye, Crappie, and Obese Bass!

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  • Dredger's Weekly Report - Walleye, Crappie, and Obese Bass!

    It’s on!

    While we’ll likely get one more blast of cold weather before spring moves in permanently, we’ve still had plenty of warm weather and higher, warmer water to turn the fish on. Therefore, I’m announcing that winter’s slow fishing is now dead and gone, and the good days of spring have arrived in north Georgia! That’s the really good news. But what’s the bad news? Again this week, we have to work around monsoons and flash floods to get to these warmer, hungrier fish. Just today we have high stream flows from 3+ inches of rain in the past 24 hours, with another inch likely. For example, notice that the Hooch in Helen has already jumped up two feet!
    Most dams are generating heavy and often, as they operate in flood control mode in Georgia and throughout the Southeast.,00062,00010

    This means that our rivers and tailwaters will have limited fishability during this wet season, despite a lot of fish swimming in those heavy currents. Folks will have to look at dam discharge schedules and USGS streamflow gauges for windows of opportunity between flood flows. Tailwater flows should be lower and clearer right up near the dam, rather than farther downstream, after muddy tributaries have emptied their contents in the main channels.

    Once again, the safer bets for anglers are reservoirs for crappie, bass, and stripers, and small streams and little lakes for stocked trout. Reservoirs have some good color to them from all the rains, and those fifty-sixty degree water temperature spikes from a week of warm days are now pulling shad into the shallows, with crappie, bass, and stripers chasing them.
    Here we go:

    · Obese Bass

    Winterkill. It’s a term that fisheries biologists use to describe the lethal effects of prolonged cold water temperatures on several species of shad and herring. Right now, anglers may notice dead blueback herring floating near the surface, like the one pictured from Lake Yonah. Herring and even threadfin shad have recently experienced a major winterkill in several north Georgia reservoirs. The winterkill was most severe in the mountain lakes, where temperatures were the coldest for the longest amount of time. There are some benefits to winterkill. Riding around the lake last week, I saw a number of gulls, osprey and even eagles grabbing an easy herring snack on the fly. Predatory fish like bass, walleye and stripers are also enjoying these easy pickings.

    Because winterkills reduce the herring population, many of our most popular sportfish species such as largemouth bass, white bass, crappie and yellow perch, will even have a greater chance of their eggs and fry surviving the onslaught from herring predation. In two or three years, you may actually catch more bass, crappie and perch as a result of this year’s winterkill. So, when you see those dead herring, remember that for better or worse, it’s a winterkill.

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

    · The Walleye Run is On!

    The recent high rainfalls and unusually warm air temperatures have triggered walleye to make an early spawning run. This week, DNR crews found walleye in the headwaters of several north Georgia reservoirs, including lakes Yonah, Lanier, Hartwell, and Blue Ridge. Shallow running plugs and light-weight jigs are effective lures for catching walleye in the river sections of these lakes. Nightcrawlers attached to a bottom bouncer are more effective at catching walleye that lag behind in deeper water. Anglers should concentrate their efforts on the channel ledges. For more information on walleye fishing in Georgia, visit:
    Anthony Rabern
    Fisheries Biologist
    Wildlife Resources Division
    (706) 947-1507

    · “Shocking” Hooch Survey
    DNR biologists and technicians were out earlier this week on the Chattahoochee River around Belton Bridge. We collected walleye broodfish to be sent to Richmond Hill and Go Fish hatcheries for making the next batch of fingerlings for stocking into north Georgia lakes later this spring. We found decent numbers of females down low around Belton Bridge, but better numbers of males can be found further upstream, all the way to Bull Shoals. These walleye averaged about 3 lbs each, with fish up to 6 lbs common.

    We saw numerous smaller striped bass throughout that section of river as well. All stripers were under ten pounds, with most being four to eight pounds. Our crews also saw several dozen white bass during this sampling and heard several reports of catches in the Belton Bridge area. This is encouraging news as it shows that our white bass stocking efforts during the last two years appear to be successful. High flows might limit fishing opportunities in the short term, but as this water recedes fishing should pick up over the next couple weeks.

    -Chris Looney
    Fisheries Tech 3
    Wildlife Resources Division, Gainesville
    (770) 535-5498 |

    · Lanier Crappie
    Crappie Fishing Report February 28, 2018

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

    Water temperature is in the low 60’s. Lake Level is less than 6 inches below full pool and more rain is forecast. (Oh boy, all we need is more stained water and more debris!) Today’s fishing was excellent. If the fish are not yet spawning, they are definitely in the pre-spawn mode. When we say the fish are shallow, we are not kidding – we are catching them as shallow as two feet. This time of year, there are several signs that Mother Nature sends that help us gauge fishing conditions and the movement of
    crappie. For example, when we see daffodils or jonquils blooming, that is an indication that the spawn is imminent. (I just learned the difference –daffodils are white and jonquils are yellow – who knew?!) Some people wait to see the dogwood trees blooming, but we feel that if you wait that long you will have missed out on several weeks of good fishing. When we see turtles sunning on blow-downs that is an indication the crappie are moving to blow-downs and shallowing up in preparation for the spawn. The water temperature impacts more than just the fish. Spiders are out and starting to build their webs, which is most apparent on docks. As a dock shooter, when approaching docks I pay attention to whether or not there are cobwebs present in certain areas. They tend to get knocked out of the way by shooting jigs, so if they are present where jigs would be targeted, it can indicate that the dock has not been fished in the last few days. If it is a dock that I fish regularly has broken cobwebs, I may not spend as much time there if it doesn’t produce right away. The moon phase also has a big impact on the spawn. The spawn often begins around a full moon and continues for the entire moon cycle. We will have a full moon in a few days. Lastly, we are seeing bank fishermen out in full force. The overwhelming majority are fishing with crappie minnows under a cork and are having good success. The darker colored crappie are the males, and their job is to fertilize and protect the eggs. So catching them in shallow water means the spawn has definitely begun. So, if you are planning to fish, target spawning areas and docks at 12 foot depths or less. Get out and enjoy the good weather and great fishing! Stay safe on the water and wear your life jacket!

    · Lanier Bass
    o #1:
    o #2: Jimbo
    Water Temp - 56 degrees
    Water Level - .3 feet below full pool

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

    The lake has stabilized a bit over the last week as we have seen more seasonal temperatures and conditions return to our weather pattern. The backs of the major creeks are still stained, and the main lake below Brown's Bridge is still clear. The waters above Brown's Bridge are more stained in the main river areas than the lower lake, and the further you go north, the heavier the stain. We have found water temps near 60 back in some of the pockets on some days, both on the north and south end. The fish are up and chewing! It is fun out there right now. This incredibly fast warm-up has really jump-started the pre-spawn bite and accelerated the process significantly. The fish are biting all over the lake right now, and you can catch them pretty much any way you prefer. Picasso Shake-down head and worm combo, SPRO crankbaits and jerkbaits, spinnerbaits, Chattahoochee jigs - they have all been working well. The location and technique for the best bite does seem to vary each day, and sometimes dramatically. So stay flexible in your approach. Try one type of area or technique, and if that is not working, move on. The fish we are catching are in 1-15 feet of water. We are working shallow, flat points, both rock and clay, in pockets and on the main lake. The steeper stuff has held some fish too, but I am leaning more toward the shallower, flatter stuff in general. Also the longer running points are starting to hold fish as well - check the reef poles and shoal markers on those warmer days. Creeks and main lake are both producing, and as usual, focus more on the main lake or mouths of creeks for the bigger fish, and back in the creeks for numbers, but you are apt to catch a big fish anywhere right now. That's what makes this time of year so much fun! We hit a pretty good crankbait pattern this week, as Jim Farmer's Castaway Crankbaits did a number on those shallower rock fish. He has some great spring crankbait patterns and sizes - look him up and make an order. We did a video together this week where I had the opportunity to crank with Jim and also talk about the importance of good quality flourocarbon line for cranking - Seaguar Abrazx is my choice in 10 lbs test. It is durable and stands up to the pounding on the rocks way better than any flourocarbon I have ever used. I highly recommend Seaguar! The docks are holding fish as well. Check those docks back in creeks or pockets that are in 15 feet of water and less. Look at the last 2 or 3 docks in any creek arm or pocket for those largemouth. Look for the fish to be under the docks when the sun is up, and more just around the docks in low light or clouds. A Picasso Shake Down head and worm combo or a Spro Jerkbait are good options around the docks. The fish are CHEWING! It's time to fish! Following is a list of my upcoming open dates for March: 6, 8, 9, 12, 13, 14, 17, 19, 20, 21, 22, 24, 27, 29, 30, 31. Give me a call and come enjoy some outstanding Lanier pre-spawn fishing!

    Thanks to all and May God Bless!

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

    · Big Lanier Cat

    · Toona Crappie

    · Hak’s West Side News
    WRD-Armuchee fisheries biologist Jim Hakala (706-295-6105) gathered the following intel on his northwest Georgia waters.

    Coosa River:

    Based on a recent electrofishing survey, white bass have started to filter into the Coosa River between Lock and Dam Park downstream to the AL state line. Despite the warm river temperatures (, their numbers are still relatively modest. The heavy rains this week will hopefully push more into the river by early next week. The size quality of the fish present is relatively good, with some female white bass observed approaching the two pound mark.

    Crappie numbers in the river are good and fishing should pick up again as river levels recede. Anglers should key in on downed trees and log jams along the river banks. Crappie jigs tipped with minnows should be the ticket for getting into some Coosa slabs.


    Crappie fishing has been excellent for the last couple weeks. Slow trolling crappie jigs tipped with minnows has been the ticket. With water temperatures in the high 50’s to low 60’s, the fish are moving shallower. Sweetwater Creek and the Little River area of the lake are one of many places producing good catches right now.


    Water temps. 57-60F and stained. Main lake points, especially those with clay banks, are holding stripers, hybrids, spotted bass and walleye. These fish can be caught on live bait and jerkbaits in the morning hours. Toussaint Hayes of Marietta recently boated his first ever walleye on a main lake point using a Strike King jerkbait. In addition to the walleye, he landed his personal best striper (14 lbs.) and several Carters’ Lake magnum spotted bass while fishing with Carters Lake Guide Service ( earlier this week. Good numbers of walleye can also be found in Coosawattee River feeding into Carters, but getting these spawn-run fish to bite can be difficult.

    Carters’ Army Corps of Engineers and DNR fisheries staff recently placed 60 plus fish attractors at two new locations in Carters. The attractors were placed in 20-30 ft. of water and are expected to hold bass, bream, catfish and walleye. There are now 55 fish attractor sites at Carters Lake. Locations and coordinates for all these sites, including these two new sites (#’s 54 and 55), can be found on the WRD website here:

    Rocky PFA:

    Report provided by Rocky Mountain PFA Manager, Dennis Shiley after a mid-week trip to Lake Antioch. Dennis said the bass fishing is good right now. The fish are shallow and feeding on flats. Small crankbaits, chatterbaits and soft plastics were all producing. Dennis’s largest bass of the day was 6.8 lbs. He also said the crappie were scattered along deep banks. He was able to put a number in the boat using live minnows. Best fish of the day was a solid 1.7 pound slab.

    · Ken’s Reservoir Reports
    Updated each Friday:

    · Chattooga Trout

    · Hooch Tailwater

    · Trout Stocked Waters
    WRD stocking list, refreshed on Friday afternoons here:
    Best bets this weekend: small lakes (Vogel, W Scott, Nancytown, Rock, Black Rock), the three big trout tailwaters when the dam isn’t generating, and Hooch thru Helen, Rock, Panther, Holly, and Johns when their flood flows recede. Recently stocked fish will be spread out well by the high flows, so cover some distance when hunting for them. Hints:

    · Bluelines
    Still a bit cold and slow…

    · Quill Gordons
    Dredger saw some of these dun boats sailing down the Hooch in Helen on Saturday. Are your haystacks and hare’s ears ready? (Top secret Dredger intel: tie some #14 parachute Adams with a dun post instead white.)

    · More Gray Bugs
    BOLO caddis this month. (BOLO= LE jargon= be on lookout)

    · Shout-out to our Volunteer Trout Toters
    Thanks to all volunteers at our recent Bucket Brigade event on the Hooch Tailwater at NPS Whitewater Park.

    · Kids Fly Fishing Clinic
    The Sam Rizzio Clinic lives on!

    · Kid Conservationists!

    · BASS Classic - Back on Hartwell

    · Annual Fishing Prospects


    SOCIAL CIRCLE, Ga. (Feb. 27, 2018) – Need fishing tips for Georgia reservoirs and rivers? Look no further than the updated fishing prospects on the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division (WRD) website. These web pages provide in-depth information detailing 32 reservoirs and 18 rivers in one convenient location -

    “Anglers, let me tell you, if you have used the annual Fishing Prospects in the past, you are in for a treat for 2018 – each prospect is now connected to an interactive map, providing a new layer of information to this already excellent resource,” says Thom Litts, Operations Manager for WRD Fisheries Management Section. “If you are not checking out these prospects for your favorite water body before heading out, you are making a mistake!”

    Georgia’s waters offer anglers some of the most diverse fishing opportunities in the southeast with more than 500,000 acres of reservoirs and 12,000 miles of warm water streams. Each fishing prospect guide includes best bets, technique tips, target recommendations and contact information.

    Lake prospects include Allatoona, Andrews, Bartlett’s Ferry, Blackshear, Blue Ridge, Burton, Carters, Chatuge, Chehaw, Clarks Hill, Goat Rock, Hamburg, Hartwell, High Falls, Jackson, Juliette, Lanier, Nottely, Oconee, Oliver, Rabun, Randy Poynter, Richard B. Russell, Seed, Seminole, Sinclair, Tobesofkee, Tugalo, Varner, Walter F. George, West Point, and Yonah.

    Rivers detailed include the Altamaha, Chattahoochee, Chattooga, Conasauga, Coosa, Coosawattee, Etowah, Flint, Ochlockonee, Ocmulgee, Oconee, Ogeechee, Oostanaula, Satilla, Savannah, St. Marys, Suwannee and Toccoa rivers.

    Georgia anglers support fisheries conservation! Did you know that your license purchase allows the Georgia WRD to continue to do important research, maintain and operate public fishing areas and more?

    Good luck this week. Work around the high water, enjoy an entire weekend of sunshine (finally!), and capitalize on the first real hints of spring.
    PS- remember to check and renew your fishing licenses before you go! We appreciate those operating funds.

    Jeff Durniak
    North Georgia Region Fisheries Supervisor

    Wildlife Resources Division

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

  • #2
    Windknot's Random Report

    Bass have been very, very good to me this week!

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