The brief Georgia winter provides a great opportunity to get excellent results for crappie fishing, and several reservoirs across the state offer rewards for anglers willing to brave the bitter cold temperatures.
“Anglers searching for winter crappie need to concentrate on the ‘hot spots’,” says John Biagi, chief of Fisheries Management for the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife Resources Division. “Crappie fishing brings a lot of action, which means it is an excellent time to engage the entire family or to introduce someone new to the fun aspect of the sport.”
During winter, crappie tend to 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 man-made fish attractors (location maps online at www.gofishgeorgia.com), especially those in the Kellogg Creek, Illinois Creek, Tanyard Creek and Sweetwater Creek areas; the Coosa River, concentrating in the river immediately below Mayo’s Lock and Dam Park and the tributary backwaters off the main river channel, especially in the Brushy Branch area of Big Cedar Creek.
Northeast Georgia: Lake Lanier’s upper part of the reservoir, especially the Chattahoochee River arm, Wahoo Creek and Little River. Upper part of Lake Hartwell, including the Eastanollee Creek area; Lake Nottely man-made fish attractors.
East Central Georgia: Clarks Hill Lake, especially at Soap, Fishing, Grays and Newford creeks, and the Little River arm; 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; Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center anglers should visit Bennett, Shepherd and Margery Lake and fish deep water, flooded timber and fish attractors; Big Lazer Public Fishing Area and Ocmulgee Public Fishing Area anglers should fish flooded timber near creek channels and deep water; 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 and the numerous sloughs located off the main river channel between Highway 27 and Highway 30.
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 www.georgiawildlife.com/recreational-licenses or buy it by phone at 1-800-366-2661.
For more information on crappie fishing in Georgia, visit www.gofishgeorgia.com or call a Wildlife Resources Division Fisheries Management office.