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Atlanta/N. Georgia/ Lake Country March 2017 PUBLISHER: Bob Rice CONTRIBUTING WRITERS: Nick Carter Henry Cowen Dr. Andrew Cox Capt. Jake Davis Jim Farmer The Fish Hawk Ronnie hall Jmmy Harris Capt. Cefus McRae Chris Scalley Gary Turner Noey Vineyard O'Neill Williams Rene J. Hesse Jimbo Mathley James Bradley David HulseY WAYNE WOOTEN Steven king ryan kennedy jay striker Graphic Design: Kathleen CARREIRO KATHLEENCARREIRO@YMAIL.COM

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A Free Publication The Angler Magazine Is Distributed Across The Southeast. The Angler Magazine Is Published Monthly By B & B Publishers P.O. Box 766 Madison, GA 30650 706-614-8231 Reproduction Of Contents In Any Form Is Prohibited Bob Rice, publisher The Angler Magazine Fishing, Boating, Conservation “Find your outdoors here”

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March 2017


Local Rivers & Fly Fishing

March Fly Fishing Report Contributed By: Henry Cowen So I thought the Falcons would win Super Bowl 51 over the Patriots, and now I am to try to prognosticate how the fishing in March will shape up when it is clearly THE most unpredictable weather of the year. Probably the best advice I can give anglers fishing the lakes in North Georgia in March is twofold: take advantage of the moon phases and take advantage of the pre-frontal systems. Try to plan your trip around both the full and new moon phases for best results. Fish will respond well to both of those moon phases. Also, if you are going to fish before a front moves through the region, in all likelihood you will be rewarded. If you choose to fish post-frontal, you better be happy to just be out on the water rather than sitting behind your desk in the office. We actually have two types of patterns that exist for March. The first is the pre-spawn, which is a big fish pattern. This takes place during the entire month of March. However, this could be delayed if temps stay cool. If someone is going to land a trophy on Lake Lanier or any North Georgia impoundment, it is usually done during this time period. Striped bass are seen crashing threadfin shad on the surface in the coves all over the lake. While the fish can be caught on both the north end as well as the south end, I still give the nod to the north end for this pattern. Look for birds to help find these fish. They can be in the backs of the coves in very shallow water or in the mouths of the coves over a 30-40 foot bottom. Either way, they will be feeding on threadfin shad in the 2” to 3” size and possibly herring in the 4”-5” size range. Fly anglers need be prepared with both a sinking line as well as an intermediate (slow sinking line) in order to cover both sub-surface as well as to twenty feet down. The sinking line comes in handy if you cannot get to the fish while they are on top. Fish up into the mid-teens and even pushing into the twenty plus pound range can be seen on the surface at this time of year. Somethin’


March 2017

Else, Coyotes, Clousers and baitfish patterns can all be the ticket. If you start with the bigger flies and get refusals, then simply size down until you get a bite! The second half of the month offers a slightly different pattern to watch for especially if the water temps warms up to near sixty degrees. Now the stripers, largemouth and spots will be feeding in the coves and you will come away with a mixed bag of fish. What I love about the second half of March is the sheer number of bites an angler tossing flies can expect. For conventional anglers it’s hard to beat either a 3/8 ounce Fish Head Spin with a fluke attached or simply a weightless fluke thrown on a spinning rod. For those anglers who have been sitting in their recliners the past two months, now is the time to clean the equipment in preparation of some fabulous March fishing. Get the honey-do list completed and make the time to get out on our area lakes. See you on the pond… To book a trip, please contact us thru our website at www.

Alpharetta, GA 30009 Contributed by: Alpharetta Outfitters 678-762-0027 79 South Main Street,

Sexy Walt’s #14 Nymph Hook (jig or regular) 3.0mm Tungsten Bead Tapered squirrel dub body with pearl tinsel rib Fluorescent orange hot spot collar Here we have Noland Glenn of Alpharetta Outfitters and Lee University Fly Fishing Team tying a Sexy Walt’s. The Walt’s worm originated in Pennsylvania as in effective spring creek fly. The Sexy Walt’s is a variation tied by competitive angler, Loren Williams with some minor adjustments. A bit of flash and a hot spot have proven to be an incredibly effective variation of the original Walt’s for high pressure fish and off-color water.


Josh England with a 24 lb March striper caught on fly

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Local Rivers & Fly Fishing

Getting Ready

Contributed by Capt. David Hulsey International Federation of Fly Fishers Master Certified Casting Instructor 770-639-4001

Contributed by James Bradley As we move into March, our streams and rivers continue to rise with the occasional rains being received. Warmer days coming are sure to start bringing some trout up to the surface for a quick snack. We’re looking for an outstanding spring this year and a lot of hook ups! One thing to work on before your first outing is some casting practice. Many folks put their long rods up at the end of the fall to never see them until the day that they hit the mountains to tempt some trout. It’s best to practice some before heading out. Work on your roll cast and some water haul casts, and stay in tune with your rod. We take thousands of anglers each year, and I can personally tell you that those who are good casters catch more fish. Use your lawn as a casting area if possible. This allows you to make casting practice easy and simple without distractions like excessive trees or fish. Use a few markers on the lawn for target and precision casting. Also, pay attention to your fly line during its flight. Make small adjustments to regain tight loops on your forward and back cast. Many times, we see improper stops which opens your loops and destroys your cast’s momentum or energy. Remember, many streams are tight and false casting can be very limited. Keep slack to a bare bones minimum. We see many people trying to cast slack which kills their cast. It’s probably the number one cause of a bad cast. Some casting should be done on a windy day. This helps your fly placement under harsh conditions. We usually see plenty of windy days February through April, so be prepared for these types of days on the water. Another great option is going to a certified casting instructor to oversee your casting. Shy away from anyone without schooling or being IFFF certified. A friend may have good intentions but may not be able to see your faults or explain how to correct them. A good casting instructor can watch you for a few minutes then dissect your cast and its faults. This can save you time and in the long run wasted money. Instructors can also

The Flies of March

show you how to make some of those new casts you might be wanting to try. After you have freshened up on your casting, don’t forget to clean up your rod. Be sure to put wax on the male ferrules which helps taking the rod sections apart more easily. Use some fine or extra fine sand paper to clean up the soiled handle if you like. At the beginning of each season we go through our reels thoroughly with Q-tips and fresh grease. You might be surprised at how much better it will function, especially the drag. Many times, you can bring that old fly line back to life after washing it and apply a fly line conditioner. A clean and slick fly line will shoot further, and it stays in better condition. March brings out some mayflies like the Quills. The Blue and Gordon are two of the earliest, and they may draw a few trout up to the surface for takes. The Quill Gordon is much larger than the Blue Quill, but the Blue usually hatches in bigger numbers. Gordons should be size 10-12 and Blues should be size 18-20. Stay with standard fare on subsurface flies like Stoneflies, Prince’s, PT’s and Hares Ear in sizes from 14-18. Water is still cold, so using some weight will get those flies on down toward the bottom. Reel ‘Em In Guide Service is an Orvis Endorsed Fly Fishing Guide based out of beautiful Ellijay, Georgia. They have been offering their services to fly anglers since 2001. Their Special Use Permit for Guiding allows them on the Chattahoochee National Forest, they have licensed guides for North Carolina, offer over 7 miles of private trophy waters across Georgia, and offer drift boat trips on the Toccoa River and the Tuckasegee River in NC.

Warmer March winds usher in some of the sweetest first gifts of the year if you are a fly fisher. All winter long we’ve been pulling big streamers and plowing furrows in the riverbeds with grossly over-weighted Stonefly and Caddis nymphs. Then, finally on the early days of the month, we pull up to the river to find huge clouds of Black Caddis swarming upstream going God only knows where. In a rush, we assemble our fly rod, and of course missing a guide or two, tie on a black Elk Hair Caddis and proceed to flog the water for an hour without so much as a look from a trout! I’ve been there done that. A few splashy rises are about and maybe the light bulb finally switches on that the fish are only interested in the emerging or the descending Brachycentrus Caddis. During these first cool days of March, a small flashy Black Soft Hackle bout a size 16 swung and tantalizingly twitched down and across stream can be a killer. Along about the middle of the month, gargantuan Quill Gordon Mayflies start hatching and showing up on most freestone streams here in the Georgia Mountains and the forgotten far west of North Carolina. After squinting all winter trying to see sporadic hatches of tiny Black Midges and itty bitty Blue Winged Olives on the water, the big size 12 and 14 flies are a sight for old sore eyes. They


are easy pickings for the trout, and they do not hesitate to slurp down these steely gray beauties. The first Quill Gordon fly pattern originated by Theodore Gordon in the famed Catskill Region of New York, is still probably the best imitation to fool early spring rising trout. Along about the end of March if it’s warm, another big juicy bug, the March Brown Mayfly, starts showing up on our waterways. It’s a large beautiful creature, and the imitations can be seen from afar. A lot of times both the Quill Gordon and the March Brown hatches can overlap and run into April. When this happens it’s truly can be magical. The March Brown is about a size 14 with a light brown or tan abdomen. This must be a good target for a trout because of the way a lightning fast rainbow will blast them. Again, the Catskill tie of this fly seems to be the most effective version to use at this time of year. If you want to get into some of this early season action check out our website at www.hulseyflyfishing. com to book a trip. Or if you want to have a chance at a true trophy rainbow or brown trout, contact us at With over two miles of the most fertile freestone stream in Georgia, plan an early season outing and give the Flies of March a shot!

March 2017


Local Rivers & Fly Fishing Chattooga River

by Karl Ekberg Chattooga River Fly Shop 864-6382806 The winter roller coaster continues here on the rivers around Chattooga River Fly Shop. A little bit of rain here and there, but not enough to make the rivers unsafe to wade. Unfortunately, we still need a good amount of rain to bring the water table back up. All in all, the rivers are truly fishing very well. The first of the hatches have started with the Quill Gordon’s and the small Tan Caddis. Soon to follow will be the first of the Mahogany and Hendrickson may flies and more caddis. Fishing the nymphs and emergers of these flies will be very productive in the riffles and into the heads of the pools and along the seams. Fishing the emergers, a cast upstream and a mend for a “dead drift” is key. After the flies have drifted past your stance on the river, let them “swing” downstream and let your line straighten, which allows the flies to rise to the surface as the naturals do. Fishing flies on the “swing” is very productive and will reward you greatly. Once seeing a few of these flies in the air and a few rises, switch to a dry fly and drift your fly to these rising fish. Flies of choice for these hatches will be for the caddis: CDC Caddis Emerger, Tan Caddis Pupa and Tan Caddis dry. For the May Flies using the Holo Pheasant Tail, Red Alert


March 2017

and Hendrickson nymphs work extremely well, and Hare’s Ear and Pheasant Tail soft-hackles for the emergers. All of these flies in the dry fly category for hatch time and rising fish will brighten your day on the river. Let’s not forget that streamer fishing is still very productive as well. Lately with the colder water temperatures, sink tips or weight pinched onto the leader has been necessary to keep the streamers down in the water column. Streamers of choice have been the Brown Crystal, UV2 Rice Krispy, Sculpzilla, Carolina Peach, Wounded Sculpin and the UV2 Special K. Many large fish have been caught in the delayed harvest sections of both the Chattooga and Chauga rivers using these on the dead drift and twitch technique and by stripping the streamers back through the pools and seams. As the water temperatures rise, floating lines will be adequate. This is a great time of year to be out on the waters as the hatches are occurring. As a fly tier, this time of year can be a great joy of tying your first dry fly, nymph or emerger, and going to the river to catch a fish with it. We offer hands-on, oneon-one fly tying classes to help you along in your journey of tying here at the Fly Shop. You will receive expert advice on what to tie, when to fish the bug you are tying, and other tips and techniques. We look forward to seeing everyone out on the rivers.

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Local Rivers & Fly Fishing

March Transistion Time

Contributed By: Jimmy Harris

Yep, it’s still pretty chilly in the mornings, and you may even have ice forming in your guides when you hit those little high elevation streams for wild trout before everyone else gets there in April. But March trout fishing has been very good to me over the years and that old adage about “in like a lion, out like a lamb” is pretty dead on for the weather most years, so I adjust accordingly. Nymphs and Woolly Buggers in the morning until the water temperature hits at least 40° when I switch over to a dry dropper rig. Between rigs I’ll likely find a nice sunlit patch of moss to take a break on while I eat a pack of crackers and close my eyes for just a moment. The warmth of the sun on my old body is just too much, and I drift off into a semi-consciousness that even the best mattress couldn’t give me. Among friends I’m known for having napped on some of the most famous trout streams in North and South America. By golly, I’m proud of it, too! My favorite rod for these trips is usually an old 7 ft. 4 weight Sage Light Line or a more recent 7 ft. 6” Orvis Superfine Glass rod in 4 wt. They both handle easily in the rhododendron thickets, they roll cast beautifully and have

just enough backbone to land the occasional “trophy” 12 incher. Short leaders of 7 or 7 ½ feet mostly tapered down to 5X but sometimes 4X if I’m throwing a heavily weighted leech pattern. If I decide to use a strike indicator, it’s most likely going to be one of the smaller football types with a piece of surgical tubing in the middle to hold it in place. I used to think they may spook the fish, but over the years I’ve had so many trout come up and strike the indicator, even when it’s chartreuse or pink, that I don’t put much credence in that any more. One of my favorite things on the face of this Earth is to slowly work my way up a small mountain stream, methodically picking the pockets as I go. I don’t care if I fish for 2 miles or 200 feet, it’s all about the experience and enjoying the moment. At these times, even getting tangled in the rhododendron doesn’t get me down. If you happen to see an older gentleman alone on a remote stream, struggling to pull down the limb on a holly tree and free up his fly, just give him a polite nod of your head. He’s not crazy, he’s just loving life, even life in the rhododendron and holly bushes. To him, life doesn’t get much better.

The Best Part of the Season Contributed By: Capt Jake Davis

When the month of March arrives, it’s the start of the best part of the season! March bring so many different presentations for the average fisherman to be successful. Here are a couple of things to watch for. Let’s take a short look at weather and its effect on how the fish respond. Nothing changes the bite more than a few degrees of water temperature increase or a cold front in the early springtime. This year, with all the constant up and down weather change, this has been extremely evident. The increase in water temperature effect is easily noticed during the change of real cold water like in the 40’s moving to the 50’s, but it also is extremely obvious in the change of 55 degree water to 57 degree water. A small change in your tactics can make or break a day on the lake. The key is knowing when to move to the shallow water with the slight changes in water temperature. The first thing that is important is the type of day. Is it sunny or cloudy? There is no question the sun warms the water temperature from the early part of the day to the mid and later part. This is your sign to start hunting warmer water to find a bite. The bass will turn on just like a light bulb when we see this sunny weather make slight changes in water temperature. Most times the movement is very near the deep water, so look for main river points, then the bays around close to deep water to find the first temperature change. Bass migrate back and forth several times throughout a given 24 hour period, thus main river points are exceptional places to start. Mud lines almost always show water temperature increases. Fishing the edge of the mud lines can be critical as the fish will hang on the mud line next to the increased water temperature area. As we move into spring, the bass migrate from their winter haunts to the spawning areas like clockwork. The key is to understand the lake you’re fishing on so you can fish the migration (pre-spawn areas).


Look for likely spawning areas, then adjust to transition areas; the main river points, road beds in this area and grass or stumps along the way. If the lake is shallow, then migration is probably done through grass points, stump fields and just about any kind of hard bottom or hard bottom structure. If the lake is deep, then your paths are more likely to be deep dropping points and, many times, boat houses near dropping creeks are the paths you’re looking for. No matter what lake you’re on, the rocky areas warm first and the migration path normally starts near the rocky areas. If you like fishing fast moving baits, rattle baits, square bill crankbaits or burning swimbaits over grass beds can be extremely successful. Any fast moving presentation can catch you a big sack of fish in a short day on the water. As the month of March goes on, burning big spinnerbaits normally proves to be an ideal time to do it. Anglers should never pass up boat docks on the bright sunny days, especially the docks where the creeks front end the spawning grounds. I also really like a football head jig because the bass always stage and move as water temperature increases, allowing you to slowly move or drag that football head on the bottom as they slowly migrate with increased water temperature. Capt. Jake Davis is a USCG Licensed Professional Fishing Guide on Guntersville, Tims Ford and Normandy lakes; to reserve your “Day on the Lake,” visit www. or call/ email 615.613.2382 msbassguide@ March 2017


Local Rivers & Fly Fishing

The Guide's Angle

Lake Allatoona

Contributed By: Chris Scalley River Through Atlanta Guide Service

Warmest Place to Trout Fish This Winter! The fact that 2016 is the warmest year in the Georgia record books may prove to be good for trout below Buford Dam this winter. Most southern tailwaters that support trout are known for warmer water temperatures in the winter months due to the warmer layers found within the thermocline.

Typical freestone trout streams are adversely affected by cold winter air temperatures which slows fish activity. Since tailwater rivers are warmer during wintertime, these mild temperatures create the ideal environment for trout and other aquatic critters such as macro invertebrates.

Forecast By: Capt. Robert Eidson First Bite Guide Service 770-827-6282 Linesides fishing is good. Got to love global warming! Water temps are a good 6 degrees warmer than it was last year at this time, and the fish are eating like it’s early December. The hybrids can been found busting topwater most mornings near the s-turns. These fish are finicky some days, live bait is the ticket. The next day it maybe a spoon,

so be sure to carry both. Mid-lake seems to be holding better numbers of fish then the south end and the north end, but I think all the creeks on the lake will produce linesides right now. Shiners fished on freelines and planer boards are producing better than trout and shad right now. Remember to downsize your hooks to match your shiners for more strikes. After the sun comes up, switch to pulling umbrella rigs. I have had my best luck pulling my rigs 145 feet behind the boat at 3.1 to 3.4 mph. As the lake starts to clear, the umbrella rig bite will get great.

“Shiners fished on freelines and planer boards are producing better than trout and shad right now. Remember to downsize your hooks to match your shiners for more strikes.”


March 2017


Local Rivers & Fly Fishing

The Casting Corner Rene J. Hesse Certified Casting InstructorFederation of Fly Fishers & Atlanta Fly Fishing and Camping Meetup Organizer

Line Ticking in the Back or Fish Jumping? Perfectly calm day, no wind, new fly rod. Fish keep smacking the water behind me. Really? This happened to me today, and I had to see if it was my back cast ticking the water or a fish. So I had to make a few more long casts, and no more fish jumping. Then they were there again a few casts later. I made it a point to watch my back cast go slightly up and out, turned to look at my target and ‘tick’. What? Here is my conclusion and solution to the line ticking on the water behind me. I was fine on my false casts, slipping line into my back cast. As you know, with line extending we have to wait a little longer. The trajectory of the back cast was slightly up which was ok for the shorter false casts, and the loops were medium. But as I shot my line into the final back cast, a few things changed. The trouble with a tick is you don’t see it. You are looking forward when it happens because it happens so late in the forward cast. You will hear it, so hopefully you can correct

it, but you will not see it. It really helps to have someone watch the cast. It doesn’t have to be a certified casting instructor to say ‘Hey, you did it again.’ But it will help to have an instructor coach you up on how to correct it. It is a combination of things that cause ticking. Combine these tweaks to correct the tick. 1. Keep sending the line ‘up and out’ off your rod tip. That gives it a little time while falling a little. 2. Increase your line speed. What’s the best way to do that? Haul. 3. Tighten up your loops. Don’t break your wrist on the back cast. The distance your rod tip goes below the oncoming line will determine the size of the loop. 4. Start your forward cast a little earlier. Don’t rotate early. Just move your hand and rod butt toward the target. These little tips can stop the ticks. I hope the fish are jumping behind you.

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March 2017


Fly Fishing & Local Lakes lake lanier striperS Forecast by: Clay Cunningham 770-630-2673 Striper fishing has been ahead of schedule here on Lake Lanier. The stripers have been actively feeding on threadfin shad all over the lake. March looks to be much of the same. For the past couple of months, medium shiners on a small size 4 Gamakatsu Octpus hook has been the bread and butter tactic. With the trolling motor at 1 mph more or less, pull the shiners on a freeline in the bays. The freeline is nothing more than a bait pulled free behind the boat. To be specific, rig up a Shakespeare Striper Series medium light rod paired with a Penn Squall 20LC reel. The linecounter reels are a big help. Spool the Penn Squall with 15 or 20 pound Trilene Big Game line tipped with a Spro 80 pound Power Swivel, and tie a five foot piece of Trilne 100 % Flourocarbon to the

swivel, then the medium shiner on the Gamakatsu Octpus hook. This hook is tiny, but always match your hook to the bait and not the fish you want to catch. The medium shiner has been the key bait all winter, and this looks to be carrying over to March. This can change any day so be sure to take a few blueback herring as well. Pull the herring on the same freeline but on a larger 2/0 Gamakatsu Octopus hook. The herring are also a little harder to keep alive. A larger bait tank like the Keep Alive tank can improve your success. If you want to pull additional baits, be sure to pick up some planer boards from the local bait shops. Some days the boards will catch more fish than the freelines. The birds have been a big help all winter. Even one bird can lead you to the fish. It can be a single loon or seagull. Also keep your eyes open for schooling fish. We have been seeing some schooling fish, and we have had success with the new Sebile

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March 2017


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Local Lakes & Forecasts

Patrick’s Perch Passion Contributed By: Wayne Wooten Patrick is my neighbor, friend and fishing buddy. He has talked about perch fishing since I’ve known him, and we have tried to put together a perch trip for a while. Weather, schedules and in this case illness, prevented us from going. This past year Patrick has been battling cancer, taking rounds of extreme chemo. He finally was able to get a few weeks off of treatments and has regained some energy. He called me and said “I need to get out of this house. Can you go fishing with me on Wednesday”. The forecast Tuesday evening for Wednesday was 72 degrees with a 5 mph WSW wind; great for February 1st. I said sure thing. What are we going to fish for? He replied “perch”. I have caught a few perch while fishing for other species but had never gone targeting them. So the next morning we were

off to Lake Russell, but when we arrived around 10 AM it was in the 60’s, but the winds were blowing 17 mph not 5! I dumped the boat and Patrick in the lake and off we went. During our ride to the lake Patrick told me that his passion was to perch fish year round, but he needed to find where they go in the warm months. We went about a mile from the ramp right out in the middle of the Savanah River and began to check out the channel on his HDS 9 looking for brush and timber in the 50 to 60 foot range. Patrick stops the boat and says let’s try here. I took a look at the screen and said are you kidding me; there is a jungle down there! We were fishing minnows on 7 foot medium spinning rods with 8 pound fluorocarbon or 10 pound braid, rigged with a 3/8 ounce egg sinker pegged with a split shot about 12 inches above a #4 Aberdeen hook.

way back to the spot but we stayed at it, white caps and all. We wound up catching 20 or so. Most were 4 or 5 inches, but we did manage 4 keepers. When you catch perch, their air bladder will bubble out of their mouths. You have to puncture it before releasing it so it will go down, allowing the fish to go back to the depths it came from. While waiting on perch bites, you can drop shot in the sticks. Patrick nailed a 4 pound spot doing this. The best part of this trip was being able to fish with Patrick again and getting him outdoors, which he really loves. Continued prayers for P a t r i c k ’s healing f r o m cancer a n d looking forward to more e s c ap a d e s w i t h him.

Even though the fish are small, you need a rod heavy enough along with minimal stretch line to set the hook fishing 60 feet deep. Note; we switched to ½ ounce egg sinkers because of the wind. After baiting up, we dropped straight down to the bottom and then turning the reel 2 or 3 rounds. You may have to play with the depth some to find the exact strike zone. It is important to keep your line straight down to detect bites. We didn’t have to wait long for the action to begin, rod tip bouncing, set the hook, and I have my first perch of the day! With the wind blowing so hard we could only fish for about 5 minutes before we got blown off our spot. Then it took 10 minutes to fight our

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March 2017


Local Lakes & Forecasts Lake Blue Ridge Smallmouth and Spotted Bass By: Shane Goebel Big Ol’ Fish Guiding Service & The Angler Magazine Fishing Team 828-361-2021, 1-844-4-ANGLER

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March 2017

Located about two hours north of Atlanta, Lake Blue Ridge plays host to some of North Georgia’s best smallmouth and bass fishing. This beautiful 3,300-acre body of water produces some awesome trophy smallmouth, and March is a great month to hit the water. Currently, Lake Blue Ridge is 24 feet below full pool. Water temperatures are in the mid 50’s. Water clarity is clear in the main lake and stained in the creeks and rivers. We have been catching a lot of smallmouth and spotted bass all over the lake, with the majority of our smallmouth being caught in the Toccoa River area. Target these fish off rocky points, ledges and shallow humps around the lake. Also, focus on working the banks that the early morning sun hits first. We’ve been pulling planer boards with live blueback herring early. It’s also a

great idea to set out a couple of free lines 100 to 120 feet behind the boat while you pull planer boards. When the sun really comes up in the midmorning hours, we’ll switch to down lining live blueback herring. Most of our fish have been caught in the 30 to 40-foot range. This really seems to be the best technique for the larger smallmouth but not until the sun really gets up. Look for large schools of smallmouths in the Toccoa River and Star Creek area. Live bait seems to be the key out here lately, but a jigging spoon and shaky head can’t be ruled out this time of year. March is a fantastic month for catching some very big fish on this lake. Give Big Ol’ Fish Guiding Service a call and let the area’s #1 guide service put you on some of Lake Blue Ridge’s best trophy fish. And, for all your live bait and tackle needs, go check out Hughes General Store in Blairsville, GA. They carry everything you need for a successful day of fishing. Now bundle up, hit the water, and go “get your fish on”! Good luck!

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Water temperature: 61 degrees, lake level: full pool, lake clarity: stained to muddy. The bass have started to move into shallow waters all over the lake in order to spawn and have been hitting a variety of different lures. There have been some bedding bass in the clear backwater areas, and they have been biting swim jigs like a 3/8 ounce Strike King Tour Grade Swim Jig in Green Pumpkin rigged with a Strike King Caffeine Shad. The grass lines in 6’ to 8’ of water have been producing some nice bass on vibrating jigs like a Strike King Pure Poison. This little jig attracts bass by making a vibration that bass can feel in the murky water. We have been seeing some huge hybrids and stripers being caught by

the fishermen who want a good fight. They are using umbrella rigs with great success. Nice limits of crappie have been coming across the docks at Wingate’s Lunker Lodge. They are starting to bed and are being caught with jigs and minnows. They are of nice size and just waiting to be caught. Catfish have been plentiful and big as evidenced by Mr. Smokie Wilson’s catch last month. We think the biggest one weighed at least 35 pounds. Springtime on Lake Seminole is awesome for bass fishing. To schedule a fishing trip, contact Paul Tyre at (850)264-7534.

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March 2017


Local Lakes & Forecasts lake lanier STRIPER Forecast By: Steve Scott In January, there was a change in the monthly pattern to say the least. Air temperatures consistently remained warmer than usual ranging from 50 to 70 degrees and water temperatures stayed in the low fifties. The pattern was smaller baits (shiners), smaller hooks (#6) and smaller leaders (8-12lb) on downlines and weighted flat lines, although stripers were still taking big baits like gizzard shad 12” and larger on planer boards, right up against the bank in the backs of southern creeks below Browns Bridge. While February water temperatures were recorded around 46 degrees by last year’s LOG, prime time for catching stripers has been either early morning to about 11am or in the afternoon around 2-6pm. Methods used have been weighted flat lines 100’ behind the boat and planer boards using a small split shot 12-18” from the hook with the same setup as we used in January, small baits and small hooks. Alternate methods used have been umbrella rigs and jigging spoons over underwater humps and points. I need to say a word about umbrella rigs. No slack in the line if a fish is on. When Marty passed the rod to Brett the fish got off. A lesson they won’t soon forget. I also used downlines in the middle to the backs of southern creeks like Flat, Balus, Mud and Shoal Creeks on the east side of the lake and Two Mile, Four Mile and Six Mile Creeks on the west side of the lake. Trophy season for stripers is upon us running from the 2nd week of February to mid-April. GO BIG OR GO HOME. What does this mean? If you are looking for a big striper in the 30-40 pound range you should consider putting out big baits like 12-15” trout or 12-17” shad. Don’t forget to use a Stinger. While fishing for these larger stripers will be a little slow going, the reward speaks for itself. Target areas are basically anywhere on the main lake, or you could choose to go north to either the Chestatee River from Highway 53 to the Dredge or to the Chattahoochee River from Clark’s Bridge to beyond Lula Bridge, with those same big baits using a spread of planer boards, diagonal bobbers and flat lines unweighted. Since the depth of the rivers can become very shallow, you should be concerned with lake structures like rocks and stumps. March water temps should be 12 ATLANTA

March 2017

mid 50’s. A diagonal bobber in front of Gainesville Marina over an 80’ bottom is a good place to start or downlined planers boards in Flat Creek over the trees. Keep a LOG to recall your catching experiences for next year including dates, times, temperatures and locations. If needing fishing information for Lake Lanier, visit http://FishingLanier. It covers fishing clubs, bait & tackle shops, guide services, fishing reports and more. TIP OF THE MONTH: Join a striper club to learn more. Visit the Lanier Striper Club in Cumming or the Oakwood Striper Club in Oakwood. My fishing logs and methods can be found at or call me at 404-273-3481.


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Fishing from the Back of the Boat Contributed By: Dr. Andrew Cox Professor at Troy University, Phenix City, Alabama. With the warm days beginning this month and into next month, the fishing season returns in earnest. Even though I have my own boats, I enjoy fishing with others and will often occupy the back of the boat while fishing from a friend’s vessel. Unfortunately, over the years when fishing from the rear of the boat, I notice that often my partner in the front of the boat will catch more fish. I will use the same lures, and retrieves but my front of the boat partner would still catch more fish. After some study, I found that this phenomena is not unusual. An obvious reason is that the front angler has first shot at the prime fishing spots if throwing to or close to the bank or structure. Angles of the lure as it is retrieved will be different in the water column and impacted by the speed of the boat as it moves through the water or propelled forward via a trolling motor. The lure depth will be different from the front and back anglers’ presentations. There are several tips for back seat anglers that I have gleaned from my study and experience: • Accept the fact that the front angler will catch more fish; that is the price you pay to fish with a friend or a more experienced angler. You may learn many important fishing lessons through observation of a more experienced angler. • Quit beating up on yourself. Those deregoratory self-remarks destroy your confidence which detracts from your fishing. • Usually fishing the same lure as the front seat angler is the kiss of death when fishing from the back of the vessel. Choose baits that you have confidence and continue to use them from the back of the boat. • From the back of the boat, fish lures deeper and slower, targeting fish that your front partner missed. • Set up a system where you and your partner switch fishing positions over the course of the fishing day. If you fish the back of the boat during the morning, you have the front during the afternoon. A downside of


switching boat angling positions is that the front angler many times has to operate the trolling motor. A recent angling trip to Lake West Point with a long time fishing friend illustrated some of the points made above. My long time angling friend likes to fish mostly shallow water, targeting grass, weeds or bank structure. My friend was throwing his usual assortment of buzzbaits and soft plastics to shallow water targets even though the lake’s level was down several feet. He had some success in catching some spotted bass. I was using a tight lining jig approach with a hair jig. This was a much slower approach, using light line, and fishing somewhat deeper water. I indeed caught a few spotted bass, but caught substantial numbers of hybrid and striped bass, much more than my long time fishing buddy. Sticking with the hair jig fished slowly and deeper paid off over the course of the fishing day with similar if not more positive results. Hopefully some of these tips will pay off for you when being a back seat boat angler. Be ever observant and do not be afraid to try different techniques from your front angling friend. Author’s Note: Dr. Andrew Cox is a contributing writer to outdoor publications and newspapers. He is a member of the Georgia Outdoor Writer’s Association. He has been fishing the waters of Georgia, Alabama, and north Florida for over forty years. Dr. Cox financially supports his fishing habits as Professor Emeritus at Troy University, Phenix City, Alabama. He may be contacted at March 2017


Local Lakes & Forecasts Lake Lanier in March – Fishing the Winter Transition Contributed By: Jim “Jimbo” Mathley Fishing during March can provide some interesting opportunities, and often anglers struggle during this transition period. The largemouth will be soon to spawn, and the spots will begin to stage in preparation for the spawn. Given the warmer winter this year, I expect the process to start early again this year as it did last year. Also, with the water levels down 10 feet from full pool, I expect locations and approach to be different as well. Let’s explore how to address the winter to spring transition on Lanier in these unusual weather and water conditions. Optimal Conditions: There are a few things to consider when you begin fishing during this time of year. The largemouth in the lake will physically go on the bed at water temperatures of 58-60 degrees. The spotted bass tend to spawn a bit later when the water temperatures reach 62 degrees or above. Typically, the fish spawn in “waves”, rather than all at once. After the first wave of fish completes their spawning routine, there will be fish in all stages of the spawn (pre, spawn, and post) for the next 30 - 45 days, depending on the weather conditions and water temperatures. Further, it is important to understand that many fish that spawn in waves do so during a favorable moon phase, given the noted water temperature requirements are met. The full and new moon phases often prompt fish to move into their spawning routine. Until those conditions are met, fish will be staging and feeding up in preparation for this process. So, where do we need to look? Location: The largemouth in Lake Lanier tend to spawn shallower than do the spotted bass. The largemouth can be found bedding in creek pockets, in a protected area, often in 3 feet of water or less. With the water low this year, these fish won’t be in the same places you found them last year, because those places are dry! Look around repositioned docks in shallow water for these fish as well as stumps that were previously in the 12 foot range and are now visible in 2 feet of water or so. The spotted bass can frequently be found in similar areas, but often prefer a hard 14 ATLANTA

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bottom type area, such as a clay flat can provide. Again, the spots will typically be found in 6-15 feet of water and even deeper. Unlike most largemouth, there are a contingency of the spotted bass that will spawn on the main lake. These fish can be found on or around humps, points and sandy saddles between islands on the main lake. Until the time when the fish spawn in these areas, fish key features adjacent to these spawning areas. Secondary points and docks often provide great staging areas for these fish and become a prime target this time of year. The low water should not affect the spotted bass spawn as much as it will the largemouth spawn. The spots will still be in the same types of places to spawn and will stage in similar areas as well, just not the same places they did last year! Lures and Presentation: Now that we have explored the location that fish can be found during the spawn, let’s examine some of the techniques and lures that can be used to catch these fish. 1. Jerkbaits - A great choice as the water warms out of the 40’s and into the 50’s. Work these baits around docks, points and over humps. A SPRO McStick is a good option. Experiment with cadence to find the right retrieve speed and pause cycle. The colder the water, the longer the pause. 2. SuperSpin – This bait from SuperFish Baits in the ¼ ounce size is an excellent choice to work in shallow creek ditches as well as in and around secondary points and docks. Experiment with trailer size and type. Either a Super Fluke Jr. or a boot-tail type trailer such as a Zoom Swimming Fluke are good places to start. 3. Crankbait – Excellent choice to cover water in the back of creeks and pockets as well as around secondary point, docks and flats. Try the SPRO Little John Series in varying depth ranges and at variable speeds until you find the best one for the day’s conditions. 4. Worm/Jig – Always an option in the springtime. A Chattahoochee Jig on rocky/clay secondary points and around docks

is always a good choice for spots or largemouth. If the fish are ultrafinicky, don’t forget the old Carolina rig to present your soft-plastics. Drag or drift this rig slowly over secondary points or spawning flats for some potentially awesome results. Also, when fishing a Picasso Shake Down and worm combo, consider using a lighter jig-head. I often choose a 1/8 ounce head or lighter to target spawning fish. I will often tip this with a 4 inch worm as opposed to a traditional offering of 6 inches or more. I often work the baits slowly in

this situation to trigger strikes. While the winter to spring/early spawn can be a challenging time of year to catch fish, it can be awesome if you remain versatile and openminded in your approach. Use the tips and techniques noted above to guide your fishing during the spawn and you will enjoy some great success. See you on the water! Jimbo is a full-time, yearround spotted bass guide on Lake Lanier. Contact him today to book a trip at 770-542-7764 or at www.

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Local Lakes & Forecasts

Honing Your Fishing Skills By Capt. Cefus McRae Nuts & Bolts Fishing Series

In the winter a lot of us anglers take a sabbatical from fishing for a month or so. It’s a time to get some of the honey-do’s done around the house and rack up a cache of kitchen passes for fishing trips this spring. I’ll take advantage of a cold, rainy day to do a little preventative maintenance on my gear, re-spool reels and restock my tackle boxes. Something else I’ve started doing is honing my casting skills. Sometimes you only get one shot at a cruising fish, a dock piling or a submerged log, and you need to hit the bullseye to get a hook-up. While my casting skills won’t win me any awards, I can usually get pretty close to the target if it’s 30 to 50 feet away. It’s the closer shots that I can have difficulty with…10 to 20 feet. I’m a spinning rod guy, and flipping with a spinning rod is not one of my strong suits. So I put out a few targets in the backyard and stand on the steps of the deck for some target practice. Paper plates are excellent for this purpose.

I’ve found there are a few keys for success. The first is practice, practice, practice. Next is being able to judge distance. You’ve got to get a feel for how much force and momentum you need to loft a lure to hit the plate. Another key factor is fresh line on your spool. Monofilament that’s been sitting on your reel for a year has likely acquired a ‘memory’, and will come off the spool like a slinky. Those memorized coils will choke down at the first guide and inhibit your distance and accuracy.. A skill that tends to accumulate a lot of rust over the winter is throwing a cast net. I’ll stand on the tailgate of the truck, or on my cooler and toss it into the yard. It needs to open fully every time. It’s good exercise too. Another off-time activity is learning a few new tricks. Go online and look at some of the new rigging styles and techniques that apply to your type of fishing. Maybe you’ve never used planer boards before. Or perhaps you got a downrigger for Christmas and need to get

familiar with how to load the release clips. Virtually everything you can imagine is available online, and you can get a basic understanding by viewing some video clips from other anglers who share their tips. One thing that always takes an entire evening before heading out on a fishing trip is plugging in new locations on my chartplotter. Navionics and other digital cartography programs offer the ability to input waypoints with your laptop, save them to a SD card and upload them to your chartplotter. And while you’re at it, you can really examine the chart of the area and potentially discover a few new spots you ought to take a look at while you’re on the water. Getting a game plan prior to hitting the water will save you lots of time and aggravation when you’d rather be fishing. This is the time of year when you’ll find boat shows and fishing expos occurring around the Southeast. Most of them have seminars with expert presenters will give you lots of insight on what to use and where to go when the weather warms up. The Nuts & Bolts of Fishing Seminar Series is a great way to get a head-start on seasonal fishing patterns and tactics for

specific species. The seminars are held near popular freshwater impoundments and coastal areas around the Southeast, and attendees get contemporary fishing info from local experts in full-day interactive sessions. The next one is this March in Alexander City, AL near Lake Martin. To learn more about seminar locations and registration, visit and click the Seminar Series link. So even in the dead of winter, you can still find plenty to do that will satisfy your appetite for something fishy. Hone your casting skills, learn a few new tricks and get your gear ready for the spring thaw. You’ll definitely realize huge dividends when you get back on the water. Tight lines and calm seas.

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March 2017


Local Lakes & Forecasts Jackson Lake

By Brian Lee leebrian16

Water temperature: 52-58 degrees, lake level: full pool, water clarity: stained. Jackson Lake will only get better as the month goes on and the warmer weather approaches. As the days get longer, the bass will start to make the transition to spawn. The bite has been great early, with spinnerbaits and crankbaits being the best lures of choice. Points should start to hold more fish as they are the highway

to spawning areas. Find potential spawning flats with any point around and you should find bass holding there. Crankbaits are very good search baits. Once you find them, you can throw a shaky head to catch the inactive fish. As the day warms up, you’ll see more fish making the move. These fish will be eating preparing for the bedding process. This time of year you can load the boat with bass and possibly catch a personal best. If you are wanting to learn a new technique, now is the time to do so, as the bass will hit just about anything they see. Take a child fishing so they too can enjoy the great outdoors.

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March 2017


Local Lakes & Forecasts lake Oconee CRAPPIE

Lake NOTTELY STRIPER By: Shane Goebel Big Ol’ Fish Guiding Service & The Angler Magazine Fishing Team 828-361-2021, 1-844-4-ANGLER In like a lion, out like a lamb. This ole folklore is so true for the North Georgia mountains. As early spring approaches and brings with it its hard to predict weather patterns, one thing is sure to be consistent, and that is that the fishing keeps getting better on Lake Nottely. For me, March has always been the kickoff to an awesome fishing season. With its warmer weather and longer days, it’s my favorite month for fishing. Currently, Lake Nottely is 12 feet below full pool. Water temperatures have been bouncing from the low to mid 50’s. Water clarity is clear in the main lake and just slightly stained in the backs of creeks. Striper fishing has been super out here lately. We’ve had a very successful January and February. Most of the stripers we are catching have been in the 20 to 30 pound range, and we’re averaging about 10 stripers a trip. This pattern should continue into the month of March and increase as the stripers start their pre-spawn. Continue the same techniques as the previous months, pulling planer boards with live herring in the backs of creeks and around shallow, sloping banks. Make sure you keep your bait close to the surface and work close to the banks. I usually run my shad and bluebacks 15-25 feet behind my planer boards. As you pull boards, it’s always a good idea to work the banks by casting a Zara Spook or a Red Fin.

As the sun comes up, turn your focus to fishing the mouths of creeks, as the stripers will follow bait to deeper water. With pre-spawn in mind, more and more stripers will start to stage in the mouths of creeks in March. Keep an eye on your electronics for schooling stripers, and pay attention to where the bait balls are. I guarantee you, if you find the bait, the stripers will be close by. We are also catching some nice spotted and largemouth bass. We’ve caught several largemouth in the past few weeks in the 8 to 10 pound range, and the spotted bass bite has started to increase. These spotted bass have been schooling up on points and shallow areas around the lake. Downlining live bluebacks has been the best technique for catching a slew of these great bass in 15-25 feet of water. For the shallow water, early morning bite, keep a jerkbait, a Flex-It spoon or a fluke on hand to work the banks and points. Although the weather may still be on the chilly side, March is a fantastic month for catching some big fish on this lake. So dig out your long johns and give Big Ol’ Fish Guiding Service a call. Let the area’s #1 striper-guide service put you on some of Lake Nottely’s best trophy fish during the fishing trip of a lifetime. We also serve lakes Chatuge, Blue Ridge, and Hiwassee in Murphy, NC. And, for all your live bait and tackle needs, check out Hughes General Store in Blairsville, GA. They carry everything you need for a successful day of fishing. Now bundle up, hit the water, and go get your fish on! Good luck!

by Capt. Chad Smith (706)207-2411 March is the month all crappie fisherman have been waiting for! The dogwoods are blooming and the big “broke neck” slab female crappie are running shallow to spawn! Pushing jigs tipped with minnows .4-.6mph up shallow 2-5 feet deep is the ticket. I will be pushing ten 14 foot Denali Pryme rods paired with either a Jiffy Jig or Sugar Bug! Black blue black, pink black pink, sexy red bug, and the Doug bug colors are all a go-to when pushing! Water temps are currently 52-56 degrees and rising. Backs of major creeks such as Sugar Creek, Lick Creek, Sandy Creek and up the Appalachee River are great places to fish. As of late, big fish are currently

in the river channels 12-15 feet deep over 20-22 feet of water but will be running shallow with the first wave of spawning fish with the full moon with all this warm weather. I expect the crappie spawn to be early with all this warm spring weather we are having. If you want to get in on the big fish pushing action, give me a call!

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March 2017


Local Lakes & Forecasts Lake chatuge

Eric Welch Welch’s Guide Service www.welchsguideservice. com 706-455-2323 Water temperature: 45-47 degrees, lake level: 7.1 feet below full pool, water clarity: clear. The bass bite has been good at Lake Chatuge. The largemouth and spotted bass have started moving up in the backs of the pockets and creeks on sunny days. We’ve been catching them on Alabama Rigs with 1/8 ounce Strike King Squadron head and 4” Swim-N-

Shiner in blue gizzard, Also throw a 5.5” Shadalicious swimbait in green gizzard color around in these areas. The jerkbait bite is improving. Try a Strike King KVD deep diver in clear water or crystal shad colors. We’ve also been catching fish around docks on 3/8 ounce PB/J jigs and shaky head using a Strike King green pumpkin Fat Baby finesse worm. The crankbait bite will start getting better with the fish moving up on warmer days. Target pebble rocky spawning areas. Just give us a call to book a trip.

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“We’ve also been catching fish around docks on 3/8 ounce PB/J jigs and shaky head using a Strike King green pumpkin Fat Baby finesse worm.”

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March 2017




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Local Lakes & Forecasts Christmas Tree Rig Yes, I know, it’s almost over, the deep brush crappie fishing that is, but December – February will come around again next year, and you should have an idea about what to do and where to go to catch big slab crappie in Southern reservoirs. If a big crappie in Georgia is called a slab then is a big croppie in Alabama a slob? Wondering. We wrote a bit about using a Road Runner for various species last month. For March, we’re being more selective and focused. You’re going to think I’m a bit ‘off ’, but if you’ll just give it a try next season, you’ll catch more than you’ve ever caught before, and they’ll be big and easy to reach; no boat, no long ride, no minnows to look after. Think ‘Christmas Tree Rig’. I don’t know how it got named that, but that’s what we call it. Three feet up on a soft rod with six-pound line, rig a 1/32 ounce Road Runner with a bit of plastic. It’s a start, but there’s more. Twelve inches down, attach a #4 stand out hook. Ever used one? Makes a huge difference. On that hook put a Fisher’s Choice Super worm or Meal worm. What? Trust me now. I’ll explain. On the tag end down another 12 inches, put another 1/32 ounce Road Runner with a little Fisher’s Choice Shrimp. No plastic, just the shrimp. Good Grief, what have you done? The top bait is an attractant and what the crappie eat anyway. Good! The middle bait on the ‘Stand Out’ is a scent spreader. Don’t worry, it gets bites too, but with the scent in the water, the crappie will bite better and stick around longer to get caught. The bottom bait is a scent spreader AND holds the rig vertical. You’re all set; three baits in the water, scent all around. Now where? Brush piles, of course. That was easy, but didn’t I say something about it being easy with no boat, no fast ride, not getting wet? I did. Large commercial marinas on the major reservoirs across the South will work just fine. It’s easy. You have to get permission from the marina owner, but if you’re nice and promise no drinking or shouting or partying, just a couple of worn-out old fishermen trying to do their best, 20 ATLANTA

March 2017

he’ll probably let you roam the dock and catch a bucket full. You might offer to share a few. To make it even easier, borrow a portable fish finder with the transducer mounted on a pole. Ken Sturdivant showed me how to use a Lowrance. It worked beautifully. You can go dock to dock, slip to slip, and soon you’ll find a gold mine of crappie, thousands of them. Catch a mess, leave a few thousand for the next fisherman, or little kid, and you’re done. Might mention here that the commercial marina is not the key, it’s the brush pile put there by the slip renters; no brush, no fish. The crappie don’t know there’s a marina there, but it does afford a giant shadow and makes them shy away from traveling out in the sunlight; no eyelids or sunglasses and all that. The crappie are in the deep brush all over the lake, but what the marina shade affords us is a great place to fish without the boat ride. I’ve included a photo of the Christmas Tree Rig, and a package of ‘Stand Out Hooks’, and hope you can make out how to fashion it. This rig will get you more bites, and if you are any good at it, catch more fish. The ‘Stand Out’ makes the middle bait work. I’ve had two and sometimes three crappie on at once. When you hook the first one, don’t reel in so quickly, and often another will bite another bait. The Fisher’s Choice canned meal worms, super worms and shrimp are sold at Walmart and other bait places and even online. Again, it’s Fisher’s Choice Baits. In the cans, they will last 5 years, and after opening, they’re good for two weeks. It saves a great deal of time and heartache not to have to scrounge up live baits and carry around a minnow bucket. These are truly shrimp, meal worms and super worms. They were once alive and have been preserved for the fisherman. Anyway, there you are. December and 50 degree water temperatures in the reservoirs comes around next year, usually after November. Works that way every year. Has for a while anyway and likely will again. Give it a try. I’ll probably see you on one of the lakes. Look for me sitting in an easy chair on a dock in the shade. COASTALANGLERMAG.COM • THEANGLERMAG.COM

Local Lakes & Forecasts lake nottely STripers

Forecast by Jeremy Seabolt 706-994-8649

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Lake Nottely fishing has been off the hooks. This has been the best January I have ever seen. The fish are loaded up in the creeks, and we have been catching fish every way you can. The best bite is on herring and shad pulling them on planer boards and weighted free lines. In March I will be fishing the backs of creeks pulling big gizzard and herring in the flats. Bucktails and Red Fins are producing lots fish too, but remember to work them both slowly. I have been catching some nice fish working points and steep banks, and the Red Fin bite will be the best in March. There has been a good topwater bite in Camp Creek. Remember that Paradise Bait has

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March 2017


Local Lakes & Forecasts Cloud Fishing

Contributed By: Noey Vinyard

Mother Nature’s Shuck and Jive Well, never let it be said that Mother Nature does not have a sense of humor. According to the calendar it should be winter but for most of the past couple of months you would have a hard time proving it. We did have a couple of weeks of frigid weather and a pretty decent snow, and it looks like for at least the next week, temperatures are going to be what we normally associate with winter. But not only has she confused us, she has confused much of the wildlife and forest plants as well. I personally cannot remember a winter like this in my lifetime, I saw three snakes in December and that is unheard of. Just last week I was noticing that the trees on the mountain and some of the ground bushes were starting to develop small green buds at the end of their limbs, and green grass is already started pushing through last year’s mulch. A mild winter it has been indeed, but Mother Nature

can be fickle, and I do not believe for a second that she does not have some surprises for us in store. The Farmer’s Almanac will tell you that if it thunders in January, it will snow in April, and I did hear thunder in January. The balmy weather, however, has given me the opportunity to witness some things that I may not have seen otherwise. Just last week, after all the animals here at 30 Coveys had been fed and cared for the evening, Festus and I sat on my back porch. As I sat in the rocking chair with my feet up on the railing something in a treetop about 75 yards away caught my eye. At first I thought it was just a squirrel playing in the trees. But after watching for a few seconds, I thought “that squirrel is playing a dangerous game” as he was climbing on the smallest limbs at the very top of the tree. But something just didn’t seem right, so I walked inside and got my binoculars and it wasn’t just a gray

squirrel after all. It was a flying squirrel, and just as I got the binoculars focused on him, he took flight and glided to the next treetop. Now I have seen many flying squirrels in the wild, but usually all you see is a quick flash, just enough for you to know you just saw a flying squirrel. But for about 10 minutes I was able to watch this little squirrel through my binoculars as he went about his business, noticing that he stuck to the very top of the tree on branches too small for regular squirrels. I also noticed that he was out and about after most of the regular gray squirrels had gone to bed. As he finally glided from my view, I wished him well and hoped that our pair of resident Horned Owls did not catch sight of him. I am also happy to report that our wood duck box is finally occupied. I have only seen them on the pond but hope to catch sight of them going into the box. I have only seen it on TV, but how those ducks hit that small hole in the box in full flight is a mystery that I want to observe firsthand. Despite the odd weather were having, life here at the 30 Coveys Animal Reservation remains much the same. We welcomed a newcomer, another dog that someone had just dropped off or had left behind, and he fits in with the rest of the crew just fine.

He loves having the run of the hundred acres here and is absolutely convinced that he can bark a squirrel out of a tree. I don’t know what the world record decibel level is for a dog’s bark, but I assure you that Bronson comes close. One of the most common questions that people ask me is “Do I believe that these animals know that they have been rescued and do they appreciate it?” I like to answer that question with stories like this. The newcomer that we named Bronson, is a full-blooded red nosed pit-bull that has not been neutered. He is larger than any other dog on the property by a good 10 pounds, and yet at feeding time, when all the bowls were put down for all the dogs to eat, the oldest, most frail dog we have nosed him out of the way and started eating his food. Any of the readers out there familiar with the pit-bull breed should know what normally would have happened. But Bronson even though obviously hungry by the way his ribs stood out, simply moved aside and stood wagging his tail, seemingly happy just to have somewhere to call home and be loved. So even though the weather is quite odd, I have no idea what it means for the normally beautiful spring here in the mountains. Life at the 30 Coveys is good. See ya next month.

If white bass is your game, 6 pound spinning gear. This should head up Allatoona Creek, Little only last a few weeks, so get out and lake Allatoona River, or the Etowah. 2-3” curly tail give it a shot. Striper/Hybrid grubs in white, yellow or chartreuse HINT: Check your fuel before thrown on 1/8-1/4 ounce jigs will you crank up. If it’s been sitting for lake, so cover lots of water and do lots be dynamite on these scrappy fish. over 3 months, it could be spoiled. If Forecast By: Shawn “Shadman” McNew of searching with your electronics to It’s hard to beat a 50-100 fish day on it smells weird, it’s probably bad. Striper Soup Bait & Tackle eliminate unproductive water. This 770-529-9601 is a time of year when some fish will “Lures will be working as well. The spoon bite will inhabit the top 5 feet of water and Due to the fairly mild winter, we you may not see them on the graph. be wrapping up as the fish move out of deep water, did not experience a large scale shad Good areas to try are around Holiday but if you can find good concentrations of bait kill. This will allow for plentitudes Harbor, Red Top, Stamp Creek, over deep water, look for fish underneath them.” of forage for the fish this spring. Bartow-Carver Beach, Kellogg Creek, The spawn run will be underway the S-Turns and Sweetwater Creek. and upstream migrations will be Some fish will be heading upriver, so starting. Expect to see surface temps head them off with some cut bait on in the low-mid 50’s climbing to 60 by the bottom up above Knox Bridge. the end of the month. Water clarity Lures will be working as well. The will vary across the lake depending spoon bite will be wrapping up as on the latest precipitation, but the the fish move out of deep water, but area around Iron Hill and Red Top if you can find good concentrations Mountain State Park will remain of bait over deep water, look for fish clear as usual. This can be a difficult underneath them. U-rigs continue time of year to pattern the fish, to produce fish with white and but persistence will pay off for the chartreuse the best color choices. dedicated angler. 80-120 feet back at 3.0-3.5 mph Live gizzard shad are working should be the ticket. If some surface very well both on planer boards feeding breaks out, be ready with and downlines. As the temperature some casting equipment fitted with climbs, go to the bigger 9-10 inch popping cork and fly, spinners, jigs baits to get the bigger bite. The fish like bucktails or a head with a fluke or 770-529-9601 can and will be anywhere on the surface plugs like Sammys or Spooks. Acworth, GA 22 ATLANTA

March 2017


Local Lakes & Forecasts Lake Burton


Contributed by Matt Henry 478-451-0167 Lake Sinclair is down 1.05 feet with water clear and the temperature in the 50’s. Bass fishing is fair. On most days the shallow water will work with a spinnerbait, jig or worm. Add the Rapala Shad Rap or other small crankbait. The number of daily bites will be lower than during spring, but the average size of fish may be higher. For the spinnerbait, try a ¼ ounce Stanley in chartreuse and white with tandem Colorado blades, one nickel and the other gold. Slow roll the bait around blow downs, brush piles, rocks, rip rap, grass and docks. Several large fish have recently been caught on Shad Raps like a #5 or #7 and a #4 or #5 in the RS series in chrome blue and fire tiger on bright days and

fire tiger, shad or gold black on cloudy days. Fish these small crankbaits around any of the fore mentioned cover and just about anywhere else. Retrieve the bait slowly. Try moving the bait with a slow sweep of the rod tip and use the reel to take up slack only. Repeat casting to the same cover will also work well on some days. Jigs with pork or plastic should also be tried. Stay with lightweight jigs if possible. Try a 3/16 or 5/16 ounce Stanley casting jig with a #11 Uncle Josh pork frog in black blue, black and or pumpkin brown. Texas and Carolina rigged worms are also catching fish from shallow water. Bass are also coming from deep water in the central and lower lake. Depths are ranging from 15 to 30 feet. Some of these fish are following shad schools and moving a lot. Others are holding on humps, points, and flats along the main river and creeks. The best baits are jigging spoons and Carolina rigs.

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Forecast by: Capt. Wes Carlton Georgia Lake Fishing 770-318-9777 Water temperature: 47 degrees, lake level: full pool, clarity: clear. Bass: The bass bite has been excellent the last few days with a lot of fish up shallow. The Alabama rig is working great! We have been catching some bigger spots and largemouth on hard plastic swim baits in the 7 inch range in white/off white. Most of the fish we have caught have been around the bank lines. We have been watching for these fish to push bait up and then working those areas. This bite should continue for the next several weeks if the water temps continue to rise as they typically do this time of year. Walleye: The walleye bite is in full swing. We have been catching most of our fish on down lining blue back herring and slow trolling night

crawlers just on the bottom. The best bite seems to be in the 20 foot depths. Be patient with these fish. Most of the time the walleye nibble and don’t take the bait right away. The walleye will be heading up the creeks to spawn anytime now and will be easier to catch on shallow diving plugs and crankbaits. Look for these fish to continue their pilgrimage up the creeks and rivers for the spawning run! Brown Trout: The trout have been deep this winter. Most of them have been hanging out over the main lake channel only coming up to feed on the vast bait population a few times a day. We have been lucky enough on a few recent trips to catch some really nice browns while casting for bass up in the creek channels. These fish were caught on a white Spro Mcstick. The brown trout follow the bait population. So if the blue back herring are deep, more than likely the trout are deep. Good Luck!

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March 2017


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LAKE SINCLAIR Crappie Contributed by Chad Smith (706)207-2411

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Crappie fishing has been good for numbers as of late. Water depths 12-20 feet deep in the back of long coves and backs of creeks with a little stain have been best! Acid rain, June bug chartreuse, popsicle and wild cat have been best colors. Long line trolling single 16th and a #4 split shot has been the ticket running .9-1 mph! The fish are all over the water column in water 20 feet deep, but the best has been from 12 feet to the bottom! Fish these same colors and depth for another 2 weeks as the water warms, then as we get more into March, these fish will run shallow getting ready to spawn. Start running single 1/16th and double 1/32nd jigs .9-1.1mph as they will be in water The fish will get bigger, and you will less than 10 feet deep in the very catch a ton of them! Best way to fish back of creeks and back of coves. for these fish will be to long line troll.


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Catering Service • Cooked to Order Fishing for big catfish has been good as we have been boating at least one every trip over 25 pounds! Planer boards pulled over 25 foot flats .5.7mph has been the ticket. Pulling big chunks of gizzard shad 75-100 feet behind the boards has been best. These fish are hammering the baits hard and really get your heart pumping. As we get into March, start pulling the same boards and baits shallower as these fish start targeting the crappie. Backs of creeks and long coves are where I would start. Don’t be afraid of fishing in water less than 8 feet as the big blue cats will be shallow gorging on the big crappie!

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March 2017


Local Lakes & Forecasts Bass Fishing Tournament Plan Contributed By: Jay Striker Competing in tournaments can be a bit overwhelming to anglers new to this part of fishing. One of the biggest pieces of advice I can tell you is to “Never let the sport you love turn into work. Always keep it fun.” Competing in tournaments can stressful, but most times it not the fishing that is stressful, it’s the unknowns that cause the stress. The not knowing if your game plan will work, will the fish be still there, how that cold front will factor in, etc. I have found that having a tournament plan that includes research, preparation and practice will help in overall success in competition bass fishing. Research: Everything in tournament fishing begins and ends with preparation and decisions. The first part of my tournament plan begins with research of the lake I’m fishing. I use all resources I have available to gain knowledge, and most of it comes from the internet. Using the electronic maps online and hard copies of maps will aid in finding locations to check. One of the programs that I use the most is Goggle Earth. This program gives me close to a 3D view of the lake and panning ability to see details that contour maps won’t provide. Another good process to develop is a pre-tournament network - a group of people you can trust to help you during pre-tournament time. This might be a local or a good friend or relative, but someone who will help you a lot. Preparation: The next process of the plan is that I start doing equipment checks. Rods and reels are the business end of the deal and they have to perform well. The next check is my boat and truck have to be in good working order. You can’t catch fish if you can’t get to them.

My Tundra gets a once over and all fluids topped off, tire pressure checks, etc. My boat and motor get a lot of attention also, especially the nuts and bolts that hold the engine to my TH Marine jack plate. I’m sure to check them every time. I’m sure not to miss looking over the trailer too. Once all of the research and equipment checks are done, it’s time to take the knowledge I have gained and head out to the lake and start putting the plan together in real time. Practice: You have to put in some time on the water physically in order to understand what you are up against. There are times I will spend hours just idling around in my boat staring at my electronics looking for schools of fish, and most importantly, why they are there. Trusting your electronics is a must to be successful. During practice time it is a good idea to experiment with several baits. If you find that the bait you are using is working, try another color, type and cadence. This will allow you to develop the most important bait of all, “confidence”. Practice so you have the opportunity to dial in what is working and what is not. There is no substitute for on the water practice. If you are considering getting into competition bass fishing and or already competing, then having a tournament plan is an essential tool for success. Research, preparation and practice are some of the main pillars you will need to succeed. The tournament plan is a living process and must be continually improved with each lake. Striker Nation, thanks for reading each month, and I look forward to seeing you on the water.

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March 2017


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March 2017


Local Lakes & Forecasts lake lanier crappie Forecast By: Dan Saknini, Lanier Crappie Angler’s Club. Water temperatures are in the low fifties, varying slightly from creek to creek. Areas with more stain typically have slightly higher water temps. I believe we are in the EARLY pre-spawn stage. However, cold spells will slow the process. The warm rains we are currently encountering will nudge the water temps up slightly. The fish are starting to roam, and some are moving to shallower docks anticipating the spawn. We are still several weeks away from the spawn, but signs are beginning to be seen, including females starting to fatten up with eggs. Your trolling bite is now a good option to target the fish that are roaming, chasing bait. Tight lining while trolling is another way to catch crappie now, using a jig tipped with minnows ten feet below the surface. This will require rods ten to

twelve feet in length, positioned parallel with the water, with up to four rods on each side of the trolling motor. Your line should be vertical while going at a very, very low speed. If your line is angled or horizontal, you are going too fast. Long lining is also working. To long line, position the shortest rods (approximately four feet in length), one on each side in the back of the boat, followed with two six foot rods, two eight foot rods and two ten to twelve foot rods in the bow of the boat. Double rig each rod using multiple colored curly tails, Bobby Garland 2” Hyper Grubs or Bobby Garland 2.25” Minnow Mind’rs with a 1/16th ounce jig head on each. If you notice that one color is working consistently better, substitute a few more lines with the same body. Of course, shooting docks is still my favorite way to catch crappie, and it is working extremely well now. This time of year, some docks are holding only smaller fish. If you notice that you are catching only smaller fish, move on to another dock where you may find bigger fish. Stay safe on the water and wear your life jacket!

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March 2017


Local Lakes & Forecasts lake lanier crappie Forecast By: Dan Saknini, Lanier Crappie Angler’s Club. Water temperatures are in the low fifties, varying slightly from creek to creek. Areas with more stain typically have slightly higher water temps. I believe we are in the EARLY pre-spawn stage. However, cold spells will slow the process. The warm rains we are currently encountering will nudge the water temps up slightly. The fish are starting to roam, and some are moving to shallower docks anticipating the spawn. We are still several weeks away from the spawn, but signs are beginning to be seen, including females starting to fatten up with eggs. Your trolling bite is now a good option to target the fish that are roaming, chasing bait. Tight lining while trolling is another way to catch crappie now, using a jig tipped with minnows ten feet below the surface. This will require rods ten to twelve in length, positioned

parallel with the water, with up to four rods on each side of the trolling motor. Your line should be vertical while going at a very, very low speed. If your line is angled or horizontal, you are going too fast. Long lining is also working. To long line, position the shortest rods (approximately four feet in length), one on each side in the back of the boat, followed with two six foot rods, two eight foot rods and two ten to twelve foot rods in the bow of the boat. Double rig each rod using multiple colored curly tails, Bobby Garland 2” Hyper Grubs or Bobby Garland 2.25” Minnow Mind’rs with a 1/16th ounce jig head on each. If you notice that one color is working consistently better, substitute a few more lines with the same body. Of course, shooting docks is still my favorite way to catch crappie, and it is working extremely well now. This time of year, some docks are holding only smaller fish. If you notice that you are catching only smaller fish, move on to another dock where you may find bigger fish. Stay safe on the water and wear your life jacket!

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“We are still several weeks away from the spawn, but signs are beginning to be seen, including females starting to fatten up with eggs.”

Lake Oconee Forecast By: Mark Smith Reel Time Guide Service (404) 803-0741 Lake Oconee is full with the water clear on the south end and stained up the lake and into the river with the water temperatures 50-54 degrees. Striper fishing is poor. Some fish are starting to show up at the dam for the spring run. Live bait fished on downlines will pick up a few fish. Use small baits like a very small threadfin 28 ATLANTA

March 2017

or a crappie minnow. Most of the stripers being caught are by crappie fisherman. Crappie fishing is good. The fish are moving into the major creeks. Use a dark jig tipped with a minnow. Spider rigs have been the best producers over the past week. Use your Lowrance to located the depth and location of the schools and adjust your depth to put the jig on top of the fish. Over the next few weeks the largest fish will be moving into the coves and creeks to spawn, so now it the time to fill a cooler with big slabs. COASTALANGLERMAG.COM • THEANGLERMAG.COM

Local Lakes & Forecasts So You Want to Fish From a Kayak? By Chris Largent

I know you’ve seen this before. A blog or Facebook post is written with the simple question of “What’s the best kayak to buy to fish from?” And then the responses commence, with a series of reasons as to why his or her kayak is “the best” for everything and typically very strong opinions regarding other brands on the market. Let me ask you a question though, would you buy a car without first taking it for a test drive? Then why buy a kayak without taking it for a test paddle? Kayak shops these days understand this. Most of the staff at these places either have, or currently, fish and have used many of the models they stock in the store. Product training is key to passing information along to their clients and customers. The technical features available on newer kayaks are only words on a page or forum until you have a knowledgeable person walk you through it. Here are a few tips from an experienced kayak angler on how to choose a boat that works for you. Know where you are going to spend most of your time fishing. Are you pond hopping or floating a few hours downstream to shuttle back? The hull design of your kayak will depend on whether or not you are looking for stability and maneuverability or tracking ability. A wider hull typically provides a lot more primary stability to the boat, making it seem less tippy and easier to control, also being more comfortable for the beginner to paddle on flat water. The more stability you have, the less tracking ability, normally due to the lack of a defined keel. Longer, narrower V shaped hulls displace water better, allowing the kayak to cut through the water with less effort. This hull design would be great for

traveling across large lakes, but not so well in narrower rivers with current and obstacles. This design will feel more tippy to a beginner and will give the false impression that the kayak is not very stable. Know what you want to take with you. Are you carrying 4 or 5 rods every trip? Are you looking to carry a cooler for an all-day outing? A lot of the newer fishing kayaks have you in mind, with weight capacity soaring into the 700-800lb range. The average, about 400lbs, is usually more than enough room for angler and accessories, with a little room to spare for the ice cold beverages. Options include interior storage and deck storage, just make sure you splurge on the extra tie down kit, and leash your rods! The rigging solutions out there now are astonishing, but you have to decide what you really need. I suggest taking it on a few trips first with as little as possible, and then figuring out what else you would enjoy having, and then trying it out. Most of the fishing kayaks on the market now come with a basic set up of a rod holder or two, and all you have to provide is a motor (your paddle) and rods. Know how the kayak handles. How do you do that? Rent one. Demo one. Borrow one from a friend. Most kayak dealers have a demo available of the popular models and will rent them out to you for that reason. Some of them even offer to deduct the rental fee from the purchase price of the boat, meaning you won’t be out any actual money in the long run. You can take all the advice in the world on how a kayak handles, but until your butt has to paddle it, you won’t have the firsthand experience. I strongly suggest taking it to the waters you will be fishing, and give it the full test of abilities. If it doesn’t work, move on

to another model. I would even go so far as to test a kayak that may not even spark your interest. You may be surprised at what you find. Call your local dealer. Hound them. Ask them the random questions from the list you’ve made. Most of them have been in the same shoes and have pretty good advice on how to handle it. Most of the shops are there to provide you with quality gear but also quality knowledge. So as you are deciding on whether or not to jump feet first into one of the


fastest growing and greatest sports around, remember you must figure out your goals, your needs and decide based on your experiences before making that final purchase. I hope this helps you along your way and I hope to run into you out on the water someday soon! Chris is part owner and General Manager of Outside World Columbus located in Columbus GA. To learn more about kayak rental and demo opportunities, visit!

March 2017


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March 2017


Local Lakes & Forecasts Lake MARTIN Forecast By: Capt David Hare 256-401-3089 Alex City Guide Service Sitting here trying to figure out what will be happening in March can be a bit tricky, but I’ll tell you what should be happening based on past years of guiding here and living on this lake. March is a month that you could find stripers on most any part of the lake, however, some of my favorite places in March are in the creek channels for example, but not limited to Elkhatchee, Blue Creek, Big Sandy and others. Creeks do not hold all the stripers by no means, but for me they produce very well. The next several weeks (12-14 weeks) you can have lots of fun fishing creeks for trophy size stripers. In fact, a couple years back on March 13th one of our guides boated a record 52 pounder at

the mouth of a creek channel. That same day we had several fish in the 30 to 40 pound range. That being said, March produces monsters. I know, I know, I haven’t told you what to fish with or how. It’s no secret that we (Alex City Guide Service) specialize in live bait fishing, which for most people is a very challenging way to fish due to catching shad and not to even mention being able to keep them alive. So what you can do is go out and catch some bream on a hook and line, keep them alive and go right then and fish them on planer boards in these areas. Take your time, be patient, work creek areas and you just might be surprised at what you catch. That sounds like a lot of work, time and trouble. Well, that’s when you just pick up the phone and call me to book a trip of a lifetime. We are considered the go-to guide

service on Lake Martin, and year after year we entertain thousands of clients and produce some of the best catches in the South. For you anglers who want to learn techniques to be able to catch stripers on most any striper lake, we have a

seminar here locally on March 25, 2017. This seminar is going to focus on live and artificial baits, locating fish, planer boarding, downlines, trolling, tackle, rigs and rigging, gear, electronics training and more. Capt. Cefus McRae of Nuts & Bolts of Fishing, Capt. Mack Farr of the popular Capt. Mac umbrella rigs and tackle and Capt. David Hare, owner and guide of Alex City Guide Service on Lake Martin, are going to be giving presentations. This seminar is a must for the novice and an eye opener for the most advanced striper fisherman. It starts at 9:00 am and ends at 3:00 pm. Lunch is included along with door prize drawings. It’s a no brainer when you get all this with only a $75.00 admission fee. For reservations and more info contact Capt. Cefus McRae by logging onto Nuts & Bolts of Fishing 2017 Seminar Series. Seminar will be held rain or shine inside the Alexander City Sports Plex Cabin in Alexander City, AL Until next time, tight lines!

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March 2017



Wall of Fame Win A Free Angler Magazine Cap! A Angler Magazine cap will be given away each month for the best reader submitted photo!

Benn Irwin from Cumming caught this big 32 inch striper on Lake Lanier.

Tim Hartzell with a big crappie caught on Dead Lakes in Wewahitchka, FL. Nic Jeter with a handful of big bass caught on Lake Seminole.

WINNER! Ron Curtis recently caught this nice bass on Lake Lanier.

Kate Willess with a big striper caught fishing with Cohutta Fishing Company.

Gray Fredrick from Newnan caught his first striper, a big 18 pounder fishing on Lake Nottely with Big Ol’ Fish Guide Service. COASTALANGLERMAG.COM • THEANGLERMAG.COM

March 2017


March atl 2017  

Angler Magazine Atlanta Edition- March 2017