South Georgia rivers like the Ogeechee are producing outstanding fishing opportunities with large catches of panfish, according to personnel with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division.
“As shown through previous research, the increased spring and summer flows in coastal river systems led to excellent growth of panfish, both in size and numbers,” said Joel Fleming, fisheries biologist. “This year the Ogeechee is no exception, with reported increased numbers of large redbreast sunfish and bluegill resulting from this year’s unprecedented rainfall.”
A research study on redbreast sunfish growth, conducted by fisheries staff during the previous decade, found that redbreasts grew extremely fast when the river was out in the floodplain with the largest increase in growth rate when this occurred during late spring and early summer, just as it has this year.
Now that river flows have dropped within river bank levels, the expanded fish populations are condensed into smaller areas, creating opportunity for excellent catch rates for anglers.
“Biologists conducting annual electrofishing studies, used to monitor the status of sportfish populations, have seen a five-fold increase in catch rates of larger-size redbreast sunfish,” says Fleming. “Additionally, anglers on the Ogeechee are reporting huge catches of bream.”
In addition to such species as redbreast and bluegill, the high river flow conditions experienced this year also will benefit largemouth bass. This may be more evident in the near future as largemouth take advantage of more meals of young panfish, increasing their growth rates and reproductive capacity.
Fishing tips for panfish, such as redbreast sunfish and bluegill, include using crickets suspended underneath a small float and targeting around shoreline cover. Those anglers that can make pinpoint accurate casts can sling artificial lures into shady haunts to pull out some true “rooster” redbreasts. Some of the more effective artificial lures for these species include small spinnerbaits with rubber band skirts or small plastic beetle bodies, in-line spinners, and popping bugs.
Safety while fishing on rivers is important. Anglers are encouraged to wear a life jacket. Flood events change rivers by moving logs and sandbars in river channels, so be careful while boating.
Need information about what type of license to have before fishing? Visit www.georgiawildlife.com/PFA/WhatToKnow . Licenses may be bought online or find a list of retail license vendors at www.georgiawildlife.com/licenses-permits-passes or buy it by phone at 1-800-366-2661.
For information regarding fishing in south Georgia rivers, visit the fishing prospects section of the Wildlife Resources Division website (www.georgiawildlife.com/Fishing/Rivers). For real-time river level readings, visit the USGS River Gauge website at http://waterdata.usgs.gov/ga/nwis/rt.