Anglers are reeling in some big fish at Hugh M. Gillis Public Fishing Area, including a monster 10-pound, 25-inch largemouth caught by a Warner Robins angler in April. In fact, anglers are regularly reporting big bass catches at this Laurens County PFA, so the recent implementation of a protective 16”-24” slot limit comes at a great time as it will continue to make this area a prime location for producing quality trophy largemouth bass.
“Fisheries staff completed a study indicating that a 16-24 inch protective slot limit would produce a 262 percent increase in the number of trophy bass available, with only a slight decline in the number of bass available to harvest,” said Bryant Bowen, fisheries biologist with the Wildlife Resources Division. “But, this protective slot limit will only work if anglers continue to harvest fish.”
Anglers at Hugh M. Gillis PFA may still harvest five bass per person (the same as before). However, only bass smaller than 16 inches or larger than 24 inches may be harvested. Bass between 16 and 24 inches must be released (anglers may not be in possession of any bass within the protective slot limit).
When is a good time to fish for largemouth bass at this PFA? With spawning almost done, and bass feeding heavily before the summer heat sets in, fisheries staff recommends early morning or late in the day. Artificial lures, such as crankbaits, swimbaits, and jigs are recommended. As one of the primary forage species in the lake is threadfin shad, shad-colored lures are a good option. Live bait is also allowed. Anglers also may want to try some catfish and shellcracker fishing while at Hugh M. Gillis PFA. Tips for success - fish a worm on a bottom rig and hold on!
Hugh M. Gillis PFA provides a perfect place for families to enjoy a safe, outdoors environment and develop an appreciation of some fantastic natural resources. Amenities include a main 109-acre lake with numerous coves and points, creek channels, standing timber, and submerged humps for attracting fish. The deepest point at the dam is about 20 feet. Additionally, there are two one-acre kids’ fishing ponds, two paved boat ramps, a fishing pier, a fish cleaning station, a pavilion/activity center, and ample parking. This area hosts approximately 12,000 annual fishing trips.
The area is open Wednesday to Sunday from sunrise to sunset all year long. Anglers may use up to two fishing poles and any size outboard motor at idle speed. Anglers 16 years of age or older must possess a current Georgia fishing license and a Wildlife Management Area license in order to fish (anglers in possession of a three-day fishing license, sportsman’s, lifetime, Senior-65+ or Honorary license do not have to possess a WMA license). Non-angling visitors to the area will need to have a Georgia Outdoor Recreation Pass (GORP).
Where can you get a license? Buy it 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 more information on Hugh M. Gillis PFA, visit www.georgiawildlife.com/PFA/HughMGillis.