Time to fish
Know where to hook a big one in Georgia
What’s on the menu for Georgia anglers this month? White bass fishing. According to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources ( DNR), Wildlife Resources Division ( WRD), white bass begin spawning runs up several Georgia rivers in late February through early April, making March the perfect time to hit the waters. WRD recommends targeting the tributaries to Clarks Hill, Oconee, Apalachee, Coosa and Chattahoochee ( near Franklin).
“ Fishing for white bass during the spring spawning run is a great deal of fun, and trips taken during that time will likely turn into fond memories,” says WRD Fisheries Chief John Biagi. “ The good news is that if the white bass action slows, there’s no need to worry, because the white bass’ bigger cousins – stripers and hybrids – are also out there waiting to be caught.”
Silvery in hue, white bass have several faint horizontal side stripes. They travel in schools and can be found in large streams, rivers and lakes. The current state record was caught on Lake Lanier in 1971, weighing in at 5 lbs., 1 oz. Typical weights range from ½ to 2 lbs.
WRD personnel recommend the following lures for white bass fishing; white, chartreuse or shad patterned jigs with small to medium size heads that can handle the current and manage not to sink too fast; small crankbaits, curly tail grubs, rooster tails and Little George’s. The best live bait are minnows and small shad. Anglers should hone in on creek mouths and fallen trees with good water flow around them on the main river. Sandy bars and banks are also excellent white bass fishing locations.
Where to go
Coosa River: White bass congregate in the upper Coosa as they make their annual upstream spawning run from Lake Weiss. The area around Mayo’s Bar Lock and Dam is a prime fishing spot and is perfect for the family as there is also a county park with bait, supplies, restrooms and camping. This area has a paved boat ramp and is good for the boat and bank angler alike. Good white bass fishing can also be found from the lock and dam down to the Ga. Hwy. 100 crossing.
Oconee & Apalachee River: Once water temperatures reach 50 degrees in March and April, white bass begin to make spawning runs up the Oconee and Apalachee. Anglers can access the Oconee River at the Dyar’s Pasture boat ramp and the SR 15 boat ramp, both in Greene County, and work their way upstream. There is bank access at the Dyar’s Pasture site. The Apalachee can be accessed at the Swords boat ramp in Morgan County. The upper reaches of these rivers may be shallow, so exercise caution.
Clarks Hill Lake: White bass fishing in the Little and Broad rivers of this lake is excellent this time of year. Anglers can access Little River ( by boat or bank) at the Hwy. 78 crossing ( note: fallen trees may limit boat access). There is also bank access at the Hwy. 80 crossing on the Clarks Hill Wildlife Management Area (WMA).
However, low water levels may keep these fish from running that far upstream. Access for Broad River can be found at Gill Point Recreation Area and Bobby Brown State Park. Pay careful attention for stumps, rocks, sandbars and other submerged or nearly submerged objects in the lake as low lake levels are expected to persist throughout the spring. Fish tend to congregate around Anthony Shoals, located about two miles upstream of Hwy. 79 where anglers can fish by boat or bank. Use caution boating upstream of Hwy. 79 as the river channel is narrow and with low lake levels, practically impossible to navigate. Bank access is good through the Broad River WMA. Bring your waders and try a different approach this year.
Chattahoochee River: A hot spot on this river is in the upper reaches of West Point Reservoir near the town of Franklin. Anglers should target the mouth of New River and work their way up towards Franklin.
As the flows and temperatures begin to rise, the fish move upriver towards the shoals above Franklin. Boat anglers can access this area by running upriver from West Point or can put in at the boat ramp located on the west side of the river off SR 100 ( U. S. Hwy. 27). There also is bank fishing access at this boat ramp.
For more information on white bass fishing in Georgia, visit www. gofishgeorgia. com or contact the nearest WRD fisheries management office.