Cold Weather Fishing Opportunities






SOCIAL CIRCLE, Ga. (Feb. 29, 2016) – More than 40 anglers reeled in a 2015 Angler Award for outstanding catches, according to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division. This award program recognizes those who catch fish that meet or exceed a specific weight or length for that particular species.

“The angler award program is a great way to celebrate catching a great fish,” says John Biagi, chief of fisheries management. “Winners this past year ranged from seven years old to 82 years young and they pulled in all types of species, including 3-pound crappie to an almost 8-pound walleye.”

The Wildlife Resources Division presented 2015 angler award recipients with a certificate and a hat embroidered with the angler’s name and the species and weight of the fish caught OR the length of the fish caught (if catch-and-release).

Qualifications for angler awards include:

– Catching the fish by legal hook and line sport fish methods in Georgia,

– Meeting or exceeding the minimum weight OR length requirements,

– Taking the fish to a division fisheries biologist for positive species identification OR including a clear, side-view photo of the fish for identification purposes,

– Completing and submitting an angler award application to:  Wildlife Resources Division/Angler Award Application, 2070 U.S. Hwy. 278 SE, Social Circle, GA 30025.  The application is available

Other Fishing Recognition Programs

State Records: In addition to the angler award program, the division also maintains a freshwater fish state-record program for anglers who land a catch that exceeds the existing record catch weight by one ounce or more.

Kids First Fish Certificate: The division wants to recognize children across the state for catching their first fish with the online kid’s first fish award certificate available at


To view the complete list of 2015 award winners and learn about award criteria, or contact the nearest Wildlife Resources Division Fisheries Management office.




SOCIAL CIRCLE, Ga. (Feb. 29, 2016) – Right now is the time to take advantage of some cool weather crappie fishing, according to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division.

“If you need information on some fantastic ‘hot spots’ for crappie fishing, we have it” said John Biagi, chief of fisheries management.  “And when you go, be sure to bring a friend or family member with you – and bring your camera to capture some of the action on the water!”

During winter, crappie congregate in deeper water, generally 15-30 feet deep, near the mouths of major tributaries and in the main lake. Large schools are easily located with sonar electronics.

As the water warms in late March, crappie will move to more shallow water toward the middle and back of major tributaries, preferring to congregate around woody cover such as stumps, logs, downed trees, fish attractors and creek ledges. Minnows and small jigs are favored bait, and light spinning tackle spooled with 6- or 8-pound test line is recommended.

Cool weather hot spots

  • Northwest Georgia: Lake Allatoona hot-spots from north to south include the Etowah flats, Little River, Sweetwater, Kellogg, Illinois, Tanyard and Clark creeks.  Channel drops, brush piles or man-made fish attractors in these areas are good bets (fish attractor location maps online at; the Coosa River, concentrating in the river immediately below the  Lock and Dam Park and the tributary backwaters off the main river channel, especially in the Brushy Branch rea of Big Cedar Creek.


  • Northeast Georgia:  Lake Lanier’s upper part of the reservoir, especially the Chattahoochee River arm.  Crappie will be holding tight to downed trees in the Clarks Bridge area as well as Wahoo Creek and Little River. In Lake Hartwell, crappie are most abundant in the Eastanollee Creek area, especially upstream of Buoy EC3, and in the upper reaches of Lightwood Log Creek.  Lake Nottely, near Blairsville, also supports a decent crappie fishery.  Look for crappie in downed timber along the main shoreline upstream of the Deavertown Boat Ramp and in the upper reaches of Youngcane Creek.
  • East Central Georgia: Clarks Hill Lake, especially at Soap, Fishing, Grays and Newford creeks, and the Little River arm; Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center anglers should visit Bennett, Shepherd and Margery Lake and fish deep water, flooded timber and fish attractors; Lake Oconee at Beaverdam, Sandy, Rocky, Richland and Sugar creeks and the Appalachee River arm; Lake Russell at Rocky River, Beaverdam, Coldwater and Allen creeks; Lakes Blalock and J.W. Smith in Clayton County both offer good bank fishing near boat ramps and additionally Lake Blalock offers good fishing at areas of standing timber and at J.W. Smith anglers are urged to concentrate on Panhandle Road Bridge, the overflow structure near the dam and the submerged pond and dam on the south side of the lake; Lake Varner and Randy Poynter Lake provide great crappie fishing opportunities.
  • West Central Georgia: West Point Lake has fish attractors, deep water areas, creek mouths and bridges; Big Lazer Public Fishing Area; Lake Sinclair at Beaverdam Creek, around larger islands (Optimist, Budweiser and Goat), riprap along Highway 441 at Little River, Beaverdam and Rooty Creek. Bank or boat anglers at Sinclair also can try riprap at Twin Bridges and Potato Creek along Highway 212.
  • Southwest Georgia: Lake Walter F. George at Pataula Creek, Rood Creek, Sandy Branch and Sandy Creeks; Lake Seminole at the main river channels around Ford Scott Island, the Chattahoochee River mouth (between river miles three and four), the mouth of Spring Creek and the old river channels and submersed structures; Lake Blackshear at Swift Creek, Collins Branch, Cedar Creek, the main channel above Highway 280 and the numerous sloughs located off the main river channel between Highway 27 and Highway 30.
  • South Central Georgia: At Dodge County Public Fishing Area (PFA) and Hugh M Gillis PFA, the most effective methods are long-line trolling with curl tailed grubs or small crankbaits.  At Paradise PFA drifting or slow trolling tube baits or curly tail grubs can be productive.  Lakes Patrick, Paradise and Horseshoe 4 are best bets at Paradise PFA.  Fisheries staff also recommends casting towards the bank as fish move to shallow water to spawn.  Anglers should note that live minnows are now allowed on these PFAs.  Backwaters of the Altamaha River can produce excellent catches of crappie when the level is right.  Fish cover in the numerous oxbow lakes with minnows or tube baits for the best success.  The crappie population is high right now, so give the river oxbows a try.


Anglers must possess a current Georgia fishing license to fish in public waters.  Where can you get a license? Buy it online or find a list of retail license vendors at or buy it by phone at 1-800-366-2661.


Bypurchasing a license as well as fishing equipment and related items, you and your fellow anglers have helped fund sport fish restoration programs for years, thanks to the Sport Fish Restoration Act.  This Act allows funds accumulated from a federal excise tax on fishing equipment and related items to be directed to activities that benefit recreational anglers.  A portion of these funds is provided to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources based on several factors, including the number of paid sporting licenses.  Sport Fish funds make the following activities possible: managing sport fish populations, raising freshwater fish in hatcheries and stocking them in public waters, maintaining and operating public fishing areas, boat ramps, fishing piers, and much more!

For more information on crappie fishing in Georgia, visit or call a Wildlife Resources Division Fisheries Management office.  Anglers can also stay up-to-date on fishing information by visiting the blog





SOCIAL CIRCLE, Ga. (Feb. 29, 2016) – If cold weather doesn’t keep you from the water, get ready to be rewarded with some great striped bass fishing.  This time of year, it is common to catch five to 15-pounders, with the occasional landing of a 30-pounder or greater.


Striped bass are abundant in many reservoirs across the state thanks to the stocking efforts of the Fisheries Management Section of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division.  Stripers prefer water temperatures less than 75 degrees and tend to concentrate over river channels and around submerged islands where threadfin shad and blueback herring are abundant.

Wildlife Resources Division biologists recommend medium to heavy 6 to 7-foot rods equipped with 12 to 18-pound test line.  Some common striper lures are 3/8-ounce white bucktail jigs, soft plastic jerk baits and large minnow bait. Anglers should cast to the shoreline or try trolling these artificial lures.

For more consistent results, live bait is recommended – 4 to 6-inch minnows or shad and blueback herring where legal (available at many local bait and tackle shops). Biologists recommend fishing live bait shallow, less than 10 feet, with a large bobber and no weight attached (free-lining), or fishing vertically (down-lining) with a 1-ounce sinker weight at greater depths of 10-30 feet. A size 2-4 hook is recommended for fishing these larger live baits and landing big stripers.


In addition to great reservoir striped bass fisheries, Georgia’s river systems also offer excellent striper fishing during the winter months.  Stocking efforts to enhance populations in the Savannah, Ogeechee, and Altamaha rivers have been very successful, maintaining healthy populations. Smaller, but healthy, populations in the Satilla and St. Mary’s rivers continue to provide very good striper angling opportunities as well.

Striper fishing destinations


  • Lake Lanier: Right now, anglers should concentrate on the upper half of the reservoir and creek arms scattered around the entire lake. The points in Flat and Balus Creeks, Thompson and Wahoo Creeks as well as main lake points in the Chattahoochee River from Laurel Park to Clarks Bridge are seasonal favorites.  Anglers should target stained (muddy) water on the north end of the lake which offer slightly warmer water temperatures that trigger striped bass feeding activity on shad and blueback herring. If water temperatures are below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, stripers go after smaller baitfish so anglers should switch to lighter line (8-pound line), smaller hooks and smaller bait when down-lining and free-lining.
  • Clarks Hill Lake: Clarks Hill is annually stocked and has an abundant baitfish population, including threadfin shad, gizzard shad and blueback herring. Target the Little River arm or major points in the lower third of the lake.
  • Lake Oconee:  Target major creek arms, such as Lick, Sugar and Richland creeks, and then the deeper water near Wallace Dam.
  • Lake Richard B Russell:  Anglers should target large creek arms, such as Beaverdam Creek, the upper reaches of the Savannah River and the deeper water around the dam.
  • Bartlett’s Ferry Lake:  Striped bass have been annually stocked in this lake since 1992 to support the Gulf-strain striped bass recovery in the Apalachicola River System.  Anglers should target the dam during winter, and during periods of power generation at West Point Lake and the Crow Hop/Riverview Dam area. Favorite baits include spoons, bucktail jigs and popping corks with trailing jigs.
  • West Point Lake: Fishing with live shad is the most effective way of catching line sides on this lake.  Jigs and spoons also work well.  Concentrate efforts around the dam and deep channels during the cool months.
  • Lake Juliette: Many anglers concentrate efforts near the pump discharge located just above the dam. Successful methods include trolling creek channels during the cooler months, and drifting or fishing on the bottom with live or cut shad.
  • Chattahoochee and Flint rivers (Early, Dougherty and Worth counties): Anglers should try the Chattahoochee River just below Columbia Dam in Early County and on the Flint River below Lake Worth near Albany and Lake Blackshear where fish tend to be more active during hydroelectric operations from Warwick Dam.
  • Coosa River: Spawn-run stripers will pour into the river over the next few months on their annual migration from Lake Weiss.  Live, cut or artificial baits can entice 5-30 pound stripers from the river’s murky waters.  Late winter anglers should focus on the river from the Hwy. 100 bridge downstream to the GA/AL state line.  In April and May, the Lock and Dam Park and downtown Rome areas of the river are typical hot spots.
  • Savannah, Ogeechee, Altamaha, Satilla, St. Mary’s rivers:  Beginning in October, the large majority of striped bass begin to congregate near the coast in Georgia’s river systems.  Feasting on a seamlessly endless supply of estuarine bait species (primarily mullet, menhaden, and shrimp) that occur in tidal areas, striped bass really begin stacking on the pounds as they prepare for the spring spawn.  While stripers during the fall and early winter are really holding close to structure (piling, trees, etc.), they tend to concentrate more towards sandbars and shallower areas as spring approaches.  Artificial baits such as plastic swim baits, bucktail jigs and large crankbaits are very effective, however, live bait can produce large numbers of stripers as well.  Due to the proximity to structure and sometimes swift current in these rivers, medium to heavy action rods equipped with 20 pound braided line is the set-up of choice.

Anglers must possess a current Georgia fishing license to fish in public waters.  Where can you get a license? Buy it online or find a list of retail license vendors at or buy it by phone at 1-800-366-2661.


For more information about striper fishing in Georgia, visit Anglers can also stay up-to-date on fishing information by visiting the blog at





SOCIAL CIRCLE, Ga. (Feb. 29, 2016) – No matter your trout fishing skill – expert to beginner – you can find a great place to “wet a line,” according to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division.

“Anglers can readily find opportunities to catch any of the three available species of trout in Georgia, including rainbow, brown and brook,” said John Biagi, chief of fisheries management.  “All trout streams are available year-round, with five streams having delayed harvest regulations through May 14.”

Delayed Harvest Streams

Anglers fishing on delayed harvest streams must release all trout immediately and use and possess only artificial lures with one single hook per lure.

The following five trout streams operate on delayed harvest regulations through May 14:  the Toccoa River located on U.S. Forest Service land upstream of Lake Blue Ridge in Fannin County (from 0.4 miles above Shallowford Bridge to 450 feet above the Sandy Bottom Canoe Access); Amicalola Creek on the Dawson Forest Wildlife Management Area (from Steele Bridge Road downstream to Georgia Highway 53); Smith Creek at Unicoi State Park; the Chattahoochee River in Atlanta (Sope Creek, downstream of Johnson Ferry Road, downstream to the Hwy 41 bridge); and a portion of the Chattooga River (from Ga. Highway 28 upstream to the mouth of Reed Creek) on U.S. Forest Service land bordering South Carolina.

Year-Round Trout Hot Spots

For year-round opportunities, some recommended locations include the Blue Ridge Tailwater (a stretch of the Toccoa River located downstream of Blue Ridge Lake in Fannin County); Noontootla Creek Watershed; Dukes Creek (located on Smithgall Woods-Dukes Creek Conservation Area-call for reservations 706-878-3087); and the Chattahoochee River (downstream of Buford Dam near metro Atlanta).

Some additional notable streams include Holly Creek in Murray County, Tallulah River in Rabun County and Rock Creek in Fannin County. Lake Trahlyta in Vogel State Park is stocked periodically through the winter and provides an excellent reservoir trout fishing opportunity.

Anglers must possess a current Georgia fishing license and a trout license to fish in designated trout waters.  Anglers must also possess a WMA license or Georgia Outdoor Recreation Pass (GORP) in order to fish on certain WMAs.  Find a list of designated areas at .  Where can you get a license? Buy it online or find a list of retail license vendors at or buy it by phone at 1-800-366-2661.

For more on trout fishing, download a free Georgia trout stream map and other trout fishing tips from the Wildlife Resources Division at or call 770-535-5498.


Leave a comment

Back to Top