Get Outside, Georgia!

Focus on fishing: three good bets

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Fishing is, as they say, definitely in the news this week. If you enjoy casting a line, this is definitely a great time to get outside!

Item 1: The big crappie are hitting

I was talking to my next door neighbor the other day, and he was telling me about some very nice crappie he’s been catching at Lake Lanier. He’s been having good success fishing from shore, and he has brought in several of epic proportions.

Where will you find crappie this time of year? Look for brushy areas or other spots with lots of submerged cover. That’s the key, it seems, and many such areas have been holding fish. Good lures include white Roostertails or similar spinners, white grubtails on small 1/16 oz. jig heads, or small minnows. And if you enjoy keeping a few for the pan, it’s hard to beat fried crappie and hushpuppies. Check it out!

Item 2: The white bass are running

For the last few weeks I’ve been watching some of my favorite close-in white bass spots, including tributaries to Allatoona and Lake Lanier, for the annual arrival of white bass. I’d hear scattered reports of an angler catching one here or there, usually near the mouths of the rivers, but no one was talking about the start of the big-time runs.
Until last week.

The prevailing wisdom is that the white bass runs happen about the time the dogwoods bloom. Up till the first of last week, I hadn’t seen any dogwood blossoms, and, truth be told, I’d caught very few white bass. But on Thursday morning, I noticed a couple of dogwood trees blooming in the neighborhood. So on Thursday afternoon, I put the flyrod in the car and made a late-afternoon pilgrimage to one of my favorite white bass spots.

It’s now safe to say that the white bass have arrived!

Where can you find white bass? Among the many places which offer an opportunity to land one are the Chestatee below Georgia 400, the Chattahoochee above the lake, Little River above Allatoona, the Etowah, and the Coosa River at Mayo Lock and Dam Park. Though you’ll need a boat to fish it, many experienced white bass enthusiasts consider the Coosa to be the very best white bass water in northern Georgia – but of course that depends on who you ask.
If you’re spin fishing, go for them with flashy white spinners such as Roostertails or with white grubtails on small jigheads (the same kinds of lures you’d use for crappie). Fly fishers should have good luck with flies such as the Rolex (a very flashy minnow imitation) or the Yeti (a fly that I developed a couple of years ago just for white bass fishing). Other light-colored streamers will work too.

Remember that the white bass runs only last a few weeks, so get in on the excitement while you can!

Item 3: The North Georgia Trout Online Spring Fling

Want to learn about trout fishing in Georgia? You’ve got a great opportunity coming up on Saturday, April 1 (no fooling!) as North Georgia Trout Online hosts its annual Spring Fling at the Buford Trout Hatchery, just off Highway 20 a few miles east of Georgia 400.

NGTO (www.ngto.org) is a non-profit organization dedicated to trout fishing in North Georgia. This online community works to protect and enhance trout fishing on several fronts. Its activities include a significant outreach effort which supports educational and environmental stewardship programs, and its members are tied together through a fishing-focused online message board, open to anyone with an interest in fishing, and especially trout fishing, in Georgia.

The group has “a firm commitment to the future of trout fishing in Georgia” and “strives to increase public awareness of the sport of trout fishing.”

The annual NGTO Spring Fling, a free and family-friendly gathering of trout fishing enthusiasts, features a variety of activities ranging from on-the-water fishing workshops to classes, presentations, casting instruction and fly tying demonstrations – plus a hotdog lunch.

And if you’re new to trout fishing or have never cast a fly rod? This is a perfect place to get started. There will be plenty of folks on hand who love to talk trout fishing and who enjoy showing you how it’s done. It’s a great opportunity to learn about a sport that you can enjoy for a lifetime.

And after lunch, for even more fishing-related fun, join the free tour of the Department of Natural Resources’ trout hatchery. Tours start at the hatchery office at 1 p.m. No advance registration is required for the tour – just show up and you’re good to go. Your kids will love this, and don’t be surprised if your tour includes an opportunity to feed some of those hatchery trout too.

For more info on the NGTO Fall Fling, visit the NGTO website at ngto.org. Look under the “FLINGS” tab for details and the latest schedule of events. I’ll be there, and I hope that you will too!


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