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.
“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,” said John Biagi, chief of fisheries management for the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division. “We have identified some great ‘hot spots’ for anglers to concentrate on as they get out there and pursue this sport fish.”
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: Success can be found at the 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. Anglers also can fish 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 are prime targets. Also recommended, the upper part of Lake Hartwell, including the Eastanollee Creek area. Lake Nottely has man-made fish attractors that are prime places to target.
East Central Georgia: Clarks Hill Lake, especially at Soap, Fishing, Grays and Newford creeks, and the Little River arm are good locations to fish. Anglers should target 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 are prime places to fish. In Clayton County, lakes Blalock and J.W. Smith 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 for anglers to target. Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center anglers are encouraged to visit Bennett, Shepherd and Margery Lake and fish deep water, flooded timber and fish attractors. The Big Lazer Public Fishing Area is managed for prime fishing. Anglers should try 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 provide good fishing opportunities. 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 are good places to target. Anglers should fish 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), the most effective methods are long-line trolling with curl tail grubs or small crankbaits. At Paradise PFA drifting or low trolling tube baits or curly tail grubs can be productive. Fisheries staff also recommends casting to the bank as fish move to shallow water to spawn. Lake Patrick and Horseshoe 4 are best bets. Anglers should note that live minnows are not allowed on either PFA.
Anglers must possess a current Georgia fishing license to fish in public waters. Where can you get a license? Buy it online, find a list of retail license vendors at www.georgiawildlife.com/licenses-permits-passes or buy it by phone at 1-800-366-2661.
By purchasing 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 and building boats and fishing piers, and much more!
For more information on crappie fishing in Georgia, visit www.gofishgeorgia.com or call a Wildlife Resources Division Fisheries Management office.