The Angler Magazine | December 2021 | Greater Atlanta Edition

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PHOTO COURTESY OF TONY ADAMS FACEBOOK: @GONEFISHINGWITHTONY VOLUME 26 • ISSUE 321

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DECEMBER 2021

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LOAD THE BOAT WITH

WINTER CRAPPIE

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ake a look at what guide Tony Adams does during the winter on Alabama’s Lake Eufaula. With all the slab crappie he catches this time of year, it’s worth considering a fish fry for Christmas or New Year’s festivities. Gone are the days when crappie fishing was a springtime-only endeavor. Anglers have figured out how to pattern these swimming fish sandwiches year-round, and Adams has them dialed in on Eufaula. It’s a pattern that probably translates well to many reservoirs across the South. Lake Eufaula is an impoundment of the Chattahoochee River that stretches out to more than 45,000 acres on the southern end of the Alabama/Georgia border. Centered around the town Eufaula, Ala., hard winter is usually shortlived. Instead of being hunkered down in the depths this time of year, Eufaula crappie are still in a fall feed-up mode. “Lake Eufaula doesn’t get as cold as a lot of lakes. They’re chasing shad in the mouths of the creeks or on the flats in 8 to 10 feet of water,” Adams said. “It’s one of the best times of year to catch bigger fish. They’ve pushed up out of

By TAM Staff

the depths to feed and put on fat to take them through the winter into the spawn.” Adams said loading a cooler with fillets can be pretty easy in these conditions. The fish might be as scattered as crappie get, but they are actively feeding. This makes catching them easy once you find them. Adams has a milk-run of brush piles in different locations and depths. His Humminbird electronics tell him quickly whether or not a location is holding fish. Once fish are located, most of Adam’s clients prefer to fish old school. Jigs catch fish, he said, but most of his anglers prefer fishing minnows the way their grandfathers taught them. Adams’ War Eagle boat is equipped with three Hi-Tek rod holders in front of each angler’s seat. His 10-foot B‘n’M rods are rigged with spinning reels and 6-pound high-visibility line. On the business end, he ties on a No. 2 hook for a lip-hooked minnow and pinches a splitshot about a foot up the line. He Spot-Locks the trolling motor over active brush and lets his anglers go to work tightlining. Sometimes, when it’s windy, he’ll add another split-shot to keep the lines from bowing.

“If you fish all three rods at different depths, you can figure out what depth they’re biting at,” Adams said. “Then you can leave all your baits at that depth.” Anglers should watch rod tips, of course, but keeping an eye on that high-vis. line is also important. Sometimes fish swim up after eating, and you’ll only notice that by watching the line. Give Adams a call if you’d rather be heating up oil than a grill on New Year’s Day. Contact Tony Adams through his Facebook page—Gone Fishing With Tony—or by calling him at (334) 695-3003.

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ish are everywhere in the Florida Keys. From big pelagics on offshore humps to vast backcountry flats teeming with tarpon and permit, the options are so varied that decisionmaking can be difficult. Throw in wrecks, reefs, bridges and ledges, and one boat just isn’t enough to do it all. If you wanted to experience all the fishing the Keys have to offer, you’d need several different types of vessels. Joel Brandenburg, of Ana Banana Fishing Company, understands this. Based in Marathon, he’s pulled together a fleet of boats and the captains to fish it all. With five boats ranging from a 53-foot Hatteras to a 24-foot Hanson, they are equipped to chase big game at the famous Marathon Humps and beyond, and also to fish skinny backwater flats and everything in between. The options are enough to make a visiting angler’s head spin, but Joel will be your guide. Putting clients on fish runs in his blood. When his son Jojo Brandenburg earned a master captains license about five years ago, it extended the family business into its third generation. They’ve had a “no-fish, no-pay” policy for more than 20 years, and in all that time they’ve only had to honor it three times. Joel certainly dialed up a good option when I contacted him on short notice this fall. I was looking for a quick half-day while on family vacation in Islamorada. With the winds up on the Atlantic, he suggested a backcountry trip. We’d trade the excitement of blackfin tuna, mahi mahi and sailfish for fast snapper action. That was just fine with

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By Nick Carter

my 10-year-old son and me. Back home, the boy is a bream slayer. “It’s like crappie fishing on steroids,” Joel said as he lowered a chum bag off the stern. We had run 13 miles over skinny water into Florida Bay to anchor off a small wooded island called East Bahia Honda. The boat bobbed at the edge of a deep channel that cuts through the flat like a green vein. The action began immediately. On light tackle, we pitched baits and hauled in mangrove snappers as quickly as we could turn to get another pilchard or ballyhoo chunk from first-mate Eddie Traylor. With a five-fish limit per person, we threw back a bunch of fish and filled the cooler with a quick limit of the chunkiest mangos. Then we bumped around a while, waiting for the tide to turn and throwing Cuda Tubes to wood structure. Casting and working a lure for the visual thrill of a barracuda streaking from cover is a lot of fun. It was tough to put the rods down when Joel suggested we go check out the bridge. On the way in, we got a good look at an endangered hawksbill sea turtle. Anchored near Fred—the storied Australian pine tree that grows from the roadbed of the Old Seven Mile Bridge—we chummed and pitched pilchards into the tide that rushed between pilings. Joel knew we’d get into some yellowtail snapper, and he was hoping for some yellow jacks and maybe a big shark. “Best as I can tell, yellow jacks started showing up around here about 12 to 15 years ago,” Joel said. “I’m happy to have them. They fight like jack crevalle and taste like tuna.” Yellow jacks average 5 pounds around the bridges, but they reach weights in the 15-

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S T s to 20-pound range, Joel said. We didn’t boat any yellow jacks, but a big jack crevalle ran the boy around the rails twice, and a nice mutton snapper went into the box along with some keeper yellowtails. When the bite slowed, Joel took us to the docks at Castaway Watefront Restaurant in Marathon with a lot more than a fish supper. They’ll cook your catch any way you want, and it was the perfect end to a day on the water. If you’re looking for a winter get-away, it’s hard to beat winter fishing in the Keys. Joel said they’re targeting sailfish and blackfin tuna and high-speed trolling for wahoo right now. Snapper, grouper and other species are biting on the wrecks, reefs, ledges, bridges and flats. The cobia will show up on the Gulf side in January and February.

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DECEMBER 2021 PUBLISHER: BOB RICE

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 WWW.THEANGLERMAGAZINE.COM REPRODUCTION OF CONTENTS IN ANY FORM IS PROHIBITED

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LOCAL RIVERS & FLY FISHING DECEMBER FLY FISHING REPORT Contributed By: Henry Cowen www.henrycowenflyfishing.com Typically, December is one of our most consistent months to fish for striped bass on Lake Lanier and many lakes in the entire Southeast. November has been an improvement this year compared to October. The stripers are up and down so fast and in fairly significant sized schools that it makes for some exciting, but a little difficult, fly fishing. By December we should be seeing the fish pushing into the creeks and not staying in the middle of the lake or in the river channels. That’s what makes this fishery so interesting. Once this weather cools, the fish should transition into their December pattern. December can easily be one of the best months to fish for striped bass on the pond. The fish and bait can hide anywhere they want (especially in the backs of the coves). The fish are chowing

on threadfin shad, which means more surface feeding fish. The pattern of fish on the south end should change as the fish will start pushing further north and away from the lower end of the lake. Fish can be spread out as they start searching for food in pockets and creeks. This means that you will need to use your binoculars to look deep into the backs of the creeks to find fish eating small threadfin shad in some fairly shallow water. The topwater bite as we know it from November will still continue into December, however, where they feed on top will radically change. By mid-month you can expect to see fish pushing bait and feeding in between docks in the smaller creeks. Sometimes they might be at the mouth of the creek while other times they will be way

Fly of the Month

WD40

by Eli Crumley

Blackhawk Fly Fishing keepemwet94@gmail.com

Hook: Tiemco TMC 2457 size 16/18/20 Thread: UTC 70 denier (color) grey Tail and Wing Case: Mallard Flank Thorax: Grey Dubbing Finish with Head Cement As water temps start dropping, dial down the size of your flies to pick up those finicky fish. Try one of my favorite flies, the WD 40, when the going gets tough.

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DECEMBER 2021

in the back of the creek. This is the time of the year that we let the wildlife guide us to the fish. The bird life on lakes can be the key to help finding you a school of fish either on the surface or sub-surface. The obvious wildlife to look for are terns and gulls diving on bait being pushed to the top. Remember though that terns and gulls will not fly to the backs of the coves, so that is where your binoculars can be very relevant to finding surface feeding fish without having to motor all the into the backs of the coves. The key to this pattern is to find the baitfish in order to find the stripers. Kingfishers seen flying around a particular area and squawking while diving on the water to pick up a threadfin shad is also a dead giveaway. Herons standing stealthy on a bank is a certain sign of baitfish in the area. If their necks are extended, they are hunting. If they are not, they are relaxed and chilling. Look for loons going up and down in a particular area and not straying too far as another hint of both baitfish and stripers. This is the time of the year when the loons will work together with the stripers to corral the bait. First you see a loon dive under water and make a splash and then a big ole striper will boil on top where the loon was. It is a wonderful sight to see. This time of year anglers need to carry both an intermediate line for surfacing fish or fish running the banks as well as a sinking line for those big schools found on your fish finder. Some folks say that the fish finder’s markings of a big school of fish can look like spaghetti on the screen. If you encounter that group, then using the countdown method will get your fly to the fish below. Most sinking lines will fall at a rate of 6 inches per second. So if you see fish at 15 feet below then a countdown of 30 seconds puts your fly in the feeding zone. Small flies are still the ticket as

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the stripers are gorging on 1”- 1 ½” long threadfin shad. My Somethin’ Else pattern is still the best fly to use, but Gummy Minnows, small Game Changers or small Polar Fiber Minnows will work too. If you don’t get an eat if you encounter fish on or below the surface, then size up to a 3” Clouser as that will also work. Also, remember to pause between your strips in order to allow the fly to free fall like a wounded shad. That is the money retrieve and may be the single most important technique you can use to trigger a bite! The dock light bite SHOULD be in full swing at this time of year, too. If you are willing to wake up an hour earlier or stay out on the lake for 90 minutes after dark, then you should find some fairly easy and consistent fishing. These fish are easy to feed and can be found all over the lake (both north and south). For the conventional angler who has a harder time matching the hatch of small threadfin shad, I’d offer this advice: Tie on a Little Cleo spoon and tie either a mini or micro Game Changer fly or a Somethin’ Else fly either in front of the lure via a dropper or behind the lure via a trailer and have at it. It is a very effective way to match the hatch conventionally and deliver the fly to the fish. Late fall is always a tad chilly but dress warm, bring some coffee for you or cocoa for the kids and have a ball. Wishing every one of our Angler Magazine readers a very Merry Christmas or Happy Hanukkah. Continue to stay safe and social distance. See you on the pond.


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LOCAL RIVERS & FLY FISHING CHATTOOGA RIVER

The entire gamut of weather has run through the mountains here in South Carolina from high temperatures in the 70’s to lows in the 20’s with some blue-bird days to downright brisk January winter feeling. The extended outlook seems to trend towards a cooler than normal December and about average in the precipitation department. For a White Christmas, we’ll have to wait and see. Last year, we did have an early morning dusting. On the fishing side of things here on the South Carolina Delayed Harvest areas, the fishing has been hot in large part due to the incredible fish which the Walhalla State Fish Hatchery has raised and continuously stocked by trucks and aided with the helicopter stocking in early November. Many huge brook trout have been caught along with stout rainbow trout, too. Many large brown trout are being caught as well now, as they entered the waterways a little later. Struggling to find fish, let our guides help you on a half or full day guided trip on the rivers. As the temperatures fall, as does the water, the trout move to comfort areas. Larger deeper runs and pools with low water temperatures will be the areas of target. Fishing double nymph rigs with heavier tungsten beaded flies will be crucial to have the rigs descend to the river bot-

toms to find the most fish. Streamer fishing is a great option during the winter months. One great thing about streamer fishing in the colder months is that you’re moving about, which keeps the body a little warmer. At times, a sink tip leader can be a great addition, as this keeps the streamers down in the water column where the fish are awaiting a large meal. As the water temperatures do cool way down, slow down the retrieval of the streamers, as not only do the baitfish become lethargic, so do the big fish. On much colder days, do not be in a crazy rush to get out and fish. Target the warmer parts of the day, as this will be when the fish are most active as well. It will only be a short time before the “Jolly ‘Ol Man” slides down the chimney with gifts, and we have a tremendous supply to fill your Christmas wish list here. From gift certificates, full line of apparel, tying supplies, rods and reels, waders and boots, we can help a loved one pick out the perfect gift. From all of us here at Chattooga River Fly Shop, we want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

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LOCAL RIVERS & FLY FISHING WINTERTIME FISHING

Contributed by James Bradley Orvis Endorsed Fly Fishing Guide www.ReelEmInGuideService.com (706) 273-0764 The beauty of fall has now left us as well as the crowds on the streams. Old Man Winter is perhaps right around the corner. This should change your approach to trout fishing as they will no longer be feeding on the surface. Keep in mind that we cannot be careless about the clothing we wear, and always let someone know when you will return along with having some safety planning in place before the trip. Wintertime fishing requires us to fish differently. Be persistent in your fishing method. Slow down while fishing and cover the water. You cheat yourself when just casting blind. Look at the stream and divide it up into lanes as you look across it. Lanes should be a foot or less apart. Trout will become more selective and will not chase food or flies in cold water. Make your cast into each lane and allow your presentation to remain in that lane for the entire drift. Use smaller flies if you are not getting any takes. Remember, the least current is on the very bottom of the stream, and this is where the fish are. Use weight and long leaders if needed to get that fly down to the fish, and the larger the X size of the leader, the faster your fly will sink. Wintertime fishing is a nymphing game, so become a master at nymphing! Wintertime fishing requires us to dress properly with most of the heat loss being through the head. Go with a solid cap instead of mesh. A toboggan or beanie cap is another good way to prevent heat from escaping, and you’ll be able to keep those ears covered. Use thermals as a base layer. The mid-layer or outer layer should be fleece or wool. Make sure your bottoms have stirrups or closures around the ankles as this will prevent the legs from riding up. Use a rain jacket as your outer garment. Most rain jackets are lightweight and breathable which make them very convenient. They help trap heat and create a wind barrier, which is a plus on a cold windy day. Your feet can be the hardest to keep warm. Do not use cotton socks at all. Sweaty feet get cold first 4 ATLANTA

DECEMBER 2021

and will stay cold if you use cotton. A thin pair of wicking socks helps draw the sweat away from your feet. Follow with a second pair of socks made from Merino wool. Your hands can be hard to keep warm. Keep a pair of Hot Hands close so you can put your hands on them to warm. Half-fingered wool gloves should help keep your hands comfortable. Be sure to carry a small hand towel with you to dry your hands after getting them wet! Safety is an important issue during the winter months. You can take your vehicle to most auto parts stores and have your battery tested for free. A battery being cold loses some of its amps for cranking. No one wants to walk out for help after a cold day on the water. Be sure to change the batteries in your flashlight. Keep a lighter or waterproof matches with you, and always tell someone where you are going and when you’ll be back. The Delayed Harvest steams in our area have been producing very well. Keep in mind that these streams get hammered sometimes, and the trout get smart pretty fast! If you find yourself not getting any takes, change flies. With higher water levels, use weight to get those flies down to the bottom. Most of these fish have been well educated since the start of the DH season. Those reaction strikes to junk will slow way down. Switch over and begin using flies that mimic the naturals as these are the ones that trout live on. Stoneflies, Prince Nymph, Pheasant Tail, and Hare’s Ear are the common patterns that represent what the trout see and eat. Common sizes to have are 12 to 18 and have them with and without bead heads. If you are a beginner wanting to learn how to fly fish, we have a great staff of instructors who have been schooled in the art of fly fishing. One of the best ways to learn about fly fishing is to spend time with those of us who are professional full-time guides. Don’t forget to ask us about our float trips. Currently, we are doing floats on the Toccoa Tailwater and will begin floating the upper as soon as water levels

allow. Give us a call to book your amazing trip on the water and don’t forget that we offer gift certificates! James Bradley is the only Orvis Endorsed Fly Fishing Guide in North Georgia’s Historic HighCountry region. Reel Em In Guide Service has been offering their ser-

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vices to fly anglers since 2001. They have permits for guiding in North Georgia and North Carolina, offering over 6 miles of private trophy waters across Georgia, and operate drift boat trips on the Toccoa River in GA and the Tuckasegee River in NC.


LOCAL RIVERS & FLY FISHING

NG COLD WEATHER FISHING TIPS By Jacob Milholland, Store Manager Cohutta Fishing Company (706) 946-3044 December is here! It’s the holiday season, and this time of year gives us the opportunity to spend time with friends and family. It’s also a great time to take a break from the stress of planning and shopping and hit the river. Here are some quick fishing tips to keep in mind before you get on the water. Tell someone where you’re headed to fish. This applies yearround, but safety should always be your number one priority before you hit the water. Dress for the conditions: we can’t stress this enough. Layers of Merino wool or synthetics followed with insulation like a synthetic down jacket will keep you warm and comfortable. Merino wool and synthetic down stay warm even when wet, so these materials are what we wear. Not only

is it uncomfortable to be out in the conditions without the right gear, it can be downright dangerous! Check your waders for leaks before you hit the water for the season. Nothing will ruin a day faster than leaking waders. This is also why we keep a set of back up clothes, a towel, and duct tape or a wader patch kit in the car. You can rescue a day on the water with a little preparation. Downsize when the fishing gets tough. I keep a box full of flies in the 16-22 hook size range like Jujubee Midges, unweighted soft hackle Pheasant Tails, or SplitCase Blue Winged Olives. Swing the fly! At the end of every drift, I let the current catch my flies and carry them “down and across” till they reach an angle directly downstream, then slowly strip back upstream. Be prepared

at all times! I catch a good number of fish at the moment that I raise my rod tip to make another cast. This is an excellent technique year round, but can really shine on the Delayed Harvest waters this time of year. Streamers like Wooly Buggers excel on the swing as well. If you head to one of the many Delayed Harvest streams, try something new! While these fish will likely eat a Pink Squirmy or Y2K, everyone fishes these flies! Try a new color like a purple San Juan, or throw a natural pattern like a Pheasant Tail or Hare’s Ear nymph with a hot head bead or collar. If you’re looking to hone a skill like short-line nymphing or streamer fishing, Delayed Harvest streams provide a great opportunity to build confidence in new techniques. If you’re heading to the water or doing some holiday shopping, don’t forget to stop by the shop located in downtown Blue Ridge, Georgia. We’re fully stocked on all of the gear and terminal tackle you

need, but we also carry a range of great gift ideas. We’re also happy to give advice and fishing reports over the phone at (706) 946-3044.

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LOCAL RIVERS & FLY FISHING THE CASTING CORNER

FRONT OR BACK HAUL- WHAT IS MORE IMPORTANT? Contributed By: Rene J. Hesse Certified Casting InstructorFederation of Fly Fishers & Atlanta Fly Fishing and Camping Meetup Organizer There is an answer that is tossed around in the discussion of fly casting when asked a question like above. The answer is used when there is no definitive answer or there are a lot of variables. Can you guess what the answer is? Let’s look at casting when you are standing, compared to a sitting position. The thing I noticed most was trajectory and hauling. Let’s talk about the hauling since that is the title of the article, and let’s fine tune it and talk about hauling from the sitting position. Hauling can be more difficult when sitting. The arm stoke and haul on the back cast is the same as standing. We have room to extend our arms opposite each other as we pull on the line. That increases the line speed and can load

(bend) the rod a bit also. However, the forward cast while sitting is restricted by limited space for the hauling arm. The line hand will not have as much space to travel down, around, or to the back. So with the assumptions that we are having to cast from a kayak or canoe in a sitting position, I would like to suggest that the back cast/haul is the most important haul. Here is a thought process I was introduced to and it really helped my accuracy, loop shape and casting while sitting. Think of your casting arm (rod hand) as the rudder and your hauling hand (line hand) as the accelerator. The casting arm will guide the line, and the hauling hand will impart the line speed. Focus on making a great back cast

with a good haul, and the forward cast is so much easier. The pull of the accelerated line going back will help load the rod for the forward cast. We need the weight of the line against the rod tip to load the rod. When the line mass is going away from the target, you can sometimes feel a slight tug on your rod tip as the line extends. That is the start of your rod loading for the forward cast. The way it works on accuracy is similar to how we cast from a sitting position. We want to get the back cast sent out in a crisp, sharp loop by applying a smooth constant rate of acceleration to a stop. We can focus more on the placement of the fly if we don’t have to worry about loading the rod by accelerating as much on the forward cast. It was loaded by the accelerated line in the back cast. Use

a good solid haul on the back cast (accelerator) to add line speed and load the rod, and then focus on the rod hand (rudder) taking the fly to the target. Using some haul on the forward cast will help turn over the loop. Use it to smooth out the cast. The haul should match in timing, length and power the rotation portion of the casting stroke. So what is more important the front of back haul? The answer is.....Wait for it....It depends.

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LOCAL RIVERS & FLY FISHING OCONEE ON THE FLYA TALE OF TWO LAKES/LAKE OCONEE DECEMBER FORECAST

Contributed By Capt. Wayne Moore USCG www.oconeeonthefly.com I had the pleasure of fishing with Henry Cowen on Lake Lanier recently. If you listen to the O’Neill Outside radio show on WSB radio (from 4:00 to 6:00 AM every Saturday), you will hear Henry’s fishing report about fly fishing for stripers on Lanier. After the trip, I started thinking about the differences between Lake Lanier and our home waters here at Lake Oconee. Lanier is deeper. The average depth is 60 feet, and it’s around 200 feet deep at the dam. Conversely, the average depth at Oconee is 21 feet and it’s around 100 feet at the dam. Lake Oconee is mostly a hybrid bass fishery and Lanier mainly stripers. Hybrids seem to tolerate the higher water temperatures and periods of lower dissolved oxygen better than stripers. The topwater bite on Lanier is usually better than Oconee and seeing schools of stripers busting the bait is amazing. However, in the fall and winter, there is a great topwater bite on Oconee. The hybrids fight hard, and you might get more numbers of fish. In December, the water has cooled down, gulls migrate to the lake, and if the water temperature is above 60 degrees, hybrids can be taken with topwater lures, spoons, bass minnows, and my favorite flies. December Forecast Hybrids/ Stripers - You will find hybrids and stripers anywhere from the Great Waters area to the dam. If the water is stained from recent rains, move closer to the dam. From the dam up Richland Creek, the water is always clear, and the hybrids/stripers prefer this. Fish the mouths of creeks on the way up Richland and stay in water that is at least 35 feet deep. If there is a hump surrounded by deeper water that can hold fish as well. Fly Fishing - I keep two 8-weight rods on my boat, one with an intermediate line that has a 200-grain 30’ sinking head and another with a 300-grain sink tip. The intermediate line keeps the fly just under the surface and the sink tip deeper. Use a 7½-foot, 12-pound leader on the 8 ATLANTA

DECEMBER 2021

intermediate line and just a 5-foot section of 10 to 12-pound fluorocarbon on the sink tip. For fly selection, 90 percent of the time I use the Cowen’s “Somethin Else” fly. Also, medium, and small Game Changers and Polar Fiber Minnows in white will catch fish. The bait is currently 2 inches long, so match the hatch. This is pretty much the same as Henry Cowen uses on Lanier, and I have to say that most of what I know about fly fishing for stripers I have learned from him. Spin Fishing – Long lining a bass minnow on 12-pound test with a swivel, #4 sinker, and #4 circle hook is my go-to technique this time of year. December Forecast Crappie Troll jigs at .09 mph to 1 mph over submerged timber and load the boat. Mid-lake around Lick Creek is a great place to start. I like Jiffy Jigs and Curtis Hobbs lite wire hooks. Popular colors are June bug, Popsicle, and blue/white. Final Words - If you want to fish this fall/winter bite, please call 404-317-9556 or email me at wmoore1700@outlook.com to lock in your dates. Tight lines, and God bless.

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LOCAL RIVERS & FLY FISHING

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kle e

COLD WEATHER FLY FISHING

Contributed by David Hulsey International Federation of Fly Fishers Master Certified Casting Instructor http://www.hulseyflyfishing.com 770-639-4001

December mornings here in Appalachia are known to be wet and cold with the occasional splinter of sunshine shooting through the gray trees hanging over our trout streams. Being prepared with the right gear and good information can be the difference between grinding out a few hours freezing or bouncing around the river with your fly rod and really happy you came! Clothing is critical to winter fishing comfort. Layers are a great idea for the sometimes 30 degree temperature swing through the day. Wool is for warm, cotton is for cool. Knee high heavy wool socks can be a trip saver along with fingerless gloves. Fingerless gloves allow you to feel your fly line and still tie on a fly every now and then. Bring a light rain jacket even if the weather prediction says no rain. Not having one will guarantee a down pour. Very important too is good pair of amber polarized glasses that are as

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essential as your fly rod in the winter. Trout strike zones in the cold water temperatures sometimes are the size of a ping pong ball, so seeing the trout clearly is going to increase your catch rate many times over. Precisely placing your nymph on the nose of the fish will usually get a snap. Being in the right place at the right time is always important in life but also on the creek. I love sunshine and fishing in it in the winter is one of life’s great joys. I weigh sight fishing to fishing on the cold shady side of the mountain and being able to fish with the winter sun overhead wins every time. Planning to hit the sunlit areas of your favorite trout stream will normally get you a few more hits and improve the mood for sure. Delayed harvest streams in North Georgia and Western North Carolina are good choices in the winter along with tailwater fisheries around the Southeast. Getting to the stream at daylight

is goofy so hang at the cabin until mid-morning to allow the water temperature to hopefully rise a couple of degrees. If you see a few midges, tiny winter stones or black caddis hatching out, you’ve done well! Trout should be happy and willing to eat a closely drifted fly. Low and slow

is the name of the game unless you see some hovering trout looking for emergers. Finish up when the sun drops behind the mountain and head back to the warm fire and the fly tying bench. Get out there and have some fun this winter you’ll be glad you did!

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Contributed By: Jeff Durniak www.unicoioutfitters.com Unicoi Outfitters, Orvis 2018 Fly Shop of the Year Welcome to the winter season when the air is clean, streams are clear and uncrowded, and bugs are gone. For anglers who prepare well, it’s a great time for trouting. Unicoi Outfitters is here to help your prep. Let’s think of it as “spring cleaning” of your equipment for the new season. Empty your vest or sling pack and your travel bag, and we’ll help you transition them to winter. First, let’s start with your vest or sling. What spring/summer stuff can you shed? First, drop the dries. Store most of those boxes, since you’ll be bottom-bumping 95% of the time for three months, and they’ll be safer in your den than your unzipped vest pocket. Retain one box of dark dries: some Adams, Blue Wing Olives, Gray Caddis, and little Black Stoneflies and maybe toss in a Midge or two. Drop the bug dope and ditch the sun gloves. What should you add? Bring out the heavy artillery: a fully stocked box of nymphs, eggs, worm imitations, and a few streamers. Add a small box of tungsten Euro nymphs for those really cold days, too. (Hint: write your phone number on the inside cover of each fly box with a Sharpie). Hopefully, you had some shot and strike indicators in your vest, but bring out the bigger stuff. Add a bag of size B and BB split shot and toss in several big strike indicators, like an Airlock, that can float several shot when you’re nymphing a deep Toccoa pool. Check all your tippet spools and replace spent or weakened spools from excessive summer sun. Midstream on the Chattooga is not the time and place

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to find just 8 inches left on your 5X spool! Check your headlamp batteries and replace as needed. Make sure the cigarette lighter works, in case you need an emergency fire. Add some fleece or wool fingerless gloves and a pack of disposable hand warmers to make an icy day tolerable. If they’re tucked in a vest pocket, they won’t be forgotten in your car. On to the travel bag. Drop all your wet-wading attire and replace with “insulation.” First and foremost, add a dry change of clothes. A dunking is not “if ”, but “when,” and is dangerous in winter. Replace summer’s thin socks with thick wool and reunite with your warm winter hat. Add a fleece jacket and wading pants and make sure you pack a raincoat. If you layer up, you’ll be ready for wind, rain, and a wide range of air temperatures. And if your budget allows, replace your spring wading shoes with a winter pair that’s a size larger and can fit thicker socks loosely. As all good athletes know, preparation is the key to success. Take a few hours soon to clean out your vest and travel bag in the warmth of home. Your preparation now will pay off with some fantastic winter fishing days ahead!

THE GUIDE’S ANGLE WINTER HATCHES? Contributed By: Chris Scalley River Through Atlanta Guide Service The shorter days and cooler weather during the wintertime trigger some really good hatches. The past few years have been quite wet, and the Corps has released excessive flows to keep Lake Lanier at an ideal elevation. So even if there were hatches, the fish wouldn’t be able to target surface bugs. Hopefully with some luck, we may get a normal rain year, and typically the blue-winged-olive mayflies and mostly cream midges will be visible to the trout, triggering regular surface feeding behavior.

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We typically nymph or streamer fish in winter, but because of the “winter hatch” phenomenon, we keep two 9 foot, 4 wt. fly rods rigged with small dries and maybe add a small emerger pattern as a dropper. Usually by Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, the lake thermocline will stabilize causing crystal clear river conditions. Longish leaders like 12 feet with fluorocarbon by dressing Gink or Mucilin the entire length including the tippet on most commonly 6X will help to minimize spooking rising fish.

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NG

LOCAL LAKES AND FORECAST CLOUD FISHING

LAKE SINCLAIR

Contributed By: Noey Vinyard

END OF SUMMER SIGNALS TIME FOR CHANGE The whitetail fawns born this spring are losing their spots and their coats are darkening so they will blend in better with their surroundings. The bucks have scraped off their summer velvet and are leaving their mark on every sapling they come across. The young hawks are sharpening their hunting skills, and the migratory birds are starting to hear the whispers from their southern haunts. The chubby groundhogs are getting themselves even fatter, preparing for a long winter sleep, and the squirrels are busy gathering nuts and thickening the liners of their nest against the winter’s cold. It’s a time of change. It’s a time the blossoms of summer are replaced by a different kind of beauty. The days are getting shorter, and the temperatures have made the weekend family outings to the beach a thing of the past. If you are an avid hunter, then some of your weekend is already spoken for, at least for the next few months or so. It’s a lot harder to take the family hunting than it is fishing, so it’s a time of year I have to work harder on spending time with my family. If you find yourself in the same situation, maybe I can give you some ideas. If your kids own a video game, which most do, you can share hours with your children playing games they enjoy. It is been proven that video games will not only help a child sharpen their mind, but increase their hand and eye coordination. And it’s certainly more fun to play a video game inside than playing tag outside in 30 degree weather. This time of year, the library can really help you out. If you and your children enjoy books about the outdoors, I would highly suggest authors like Jack London

and James Herriot. You might be amazed at how much fun it can be for a family to read these kinds of books together and even more fun discussing them at the dinner table. Winter is also a good time to catch up on family-oriented movies you may have missed out in the hustle and bustle of summer. One of my favorite nights of the week is movie night, and a rainy, cold day is another excellent time for movies. One thing to keep in mind when you’re trying to find something to do with your family is not to plan the whole day for them or think that you must keep them entertained all the time. Something to think about though is the fact that just because you and your family are in the same house does not automatically mean you are spending time together. People can be in the same house for a whole day and not spend any real time together at all. Thirty minutes can go a long way, and if you make the effort to make those minutes count with your kids, you might be surprised at just how much you enjoy them. Play tea party with your daughter for 30 minutes. Take 30 minutes of your day by helping your son build a model. Try talking with your spouse for 30 minutes. Not one of your everyday chats, but one of those talks you used to have when you are first getting to know each other. Yes, fall is here and winter is just around the corner, and the blooms and fireworks of summer are replaced by golden leaves and snowstorms. There’s a special beauty to winter, just as there is a special beauty to messy days spent indoors. You just have to look for it. See you next month, Blue Ridge.

Forecast By: Ken Sturdivant kensturdivant@att.net Lake Sinclair is full with the water temperature in the 60s. Bass fishing is fair. Fishing will get better especially mid-day to dark. Never rule out a gold Leverage buzzbait all day. Use a small shad or fire tiger crankbait or a spinnerbait too. A Texas rig worm along the side of the docks will work on down times, but just work them slowly. Work all the areas of the dock and make a note what part of the dock the fish were holding. Be sure to fish the same ar-

eas on other docks. The Lowrance Structure Scan and Down Scan technology will make scanning these areas a real time saver. A Berkley Frittside is a crankbait designed by David Fritts. This flat sided crankbait is designed to combine the better of two worlds. This bait casts farther and better than balsa without losing the unique action. Use 8-pound test line on a spinning rod and use as little weight as possible on the Texas rig. Also try the Sexy Shad crankbaits. Be sure to have a Zoom Super Fluke in pearl ready all day. Keep a buzzbait tied on the rest of this month and hit the grass beds early and late.

Never rule out a gold Leverage buzzbait all day. Use a small shad or fire tiger crankbait or a spinnerbait too.

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LOCAL LAKES AND FORECAST LAKE MARTIN Provided By: David Hare Alex City Guide Service 256-401-3089 Water temperature: 68 degrees, lake level: 487.00, clarity: clear. With December now on us, we look back for a moment on how great the bite in November was. November never fails to produce large stringers of Lake Martin stripers. Moving forward to December, the bite will just continue to be awesome. The stripers will be schooled together in huge numbers throughout the lake. I have already been seeing sea gulls gathering here on the lake which has been a big help in locating baitfish and stripers. Keep a watchful eye out for the gulls diving and have a Redfin tied on for some

topwater action. This month, we will be downlining live baits as well as pulling boards with live baits on top, because both approaches work well in December. Be extra careful this winter here on Lake Martin due to our lake levels will fall 10 feet instead of the normal 7 feet. There will still be lots and lots of great fishing, however, there will be more hazards to watch for. If you’re still in search of the right gift to get someone for Christmas, please consider getting a gift certificate from us here at Alex City Guide Service. It’s the only certificate I know of that you can get now and not have to pay for until it is used. Just shoot me a text at 256-401-3089. Happy Holidays everyone!

LAKE BLUE RIDGE bottom. The feeding fish will typically hit your offerings within the first few minutes, so don’t spend too much time in one spot. Usually where you find one, there’s more nearby. Depth ranges of 45 to 65 feet are a good starting point, and keep an eye out for big schools of bluebacks to help locate fish. I’m not really fishing for bass, but there’s a lot of surface action early in the mornings on the main lake. There’s been a few mornings I wish I had a Zara Spook tied on for sure. Most of the bass I’m catching are on the spoons while walleye fishing. I can tell when I get too shallow because I start catching spots, usually 45 to 35 feet deep. Stay warm and we will see you out there.

Forecast By: Eric Crowley Lake & Stream Guide Service (706) 669-4973

lakeandstreamguideservice@gmail.com

Water temperature: 56 degrees, lake level: -16 feet, clarity: 10 to 12 feet. Brrrrrrr it’s cold, but if you dress properly, the rewards are worth it. We are mainly targeting walleye in December. The fish stay pretty deep, and it’s definitely a vertical presentation. Spoons, jigs, and live bait are the best way to target them. You need to mark fish on the graph before spending the time to fish an area. Look for the walleye in small groups of 3 to 6 fish on or near the

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LOCAL LAKES AND FORECAST DECEMBER ON LAKE LANIER – ROCK THE DITCH Contributed By: Jim “Jimbo” Mathley www.jimboonlanier.com

While the outside elements are not always favorable, December and throughout the winter can offer some outstanding angling on Lake Lanier. Big sacks of spotted bass can be taken during these cold-weather months if you approach the lake with an open mind and are willing to try some different techniques and locations, and mostly, get off the bank. Let’s explore one productive approach to Lanier in December – the ditches. Ditches: A ditch can be defined as a significant depression, typically narrow in width (2-15 feet), which offers a sharp depth change of 2 feet or more from the surrounding structure. Ditches can be naturally occurring or can be man-made. An example of a naturally occurring ditch would be a creek channel that feeds a pocket, cove, or creek arm. A man-made ditch could result from a trench that was dug during the construction of a housing edition near the lake. These features exist in

many places on Lake Lanier, and they hold fish during the winter months. Ditches can be shallow or deep, and sometimes both depending on the length and location of the ditch. The lake will be down about 1.5 feet from full pool going into December, so I anticipate a normal year in terms of this bite. Search: Use your Your Humminbird electronics to find creek arms or pockets just off of the main creek channels that offer a deep vein extending back into the arm or cove/pocket. The farther the deep water extends into the creek arm, the better. Also, the more rock that is present, the better. When you enter these areas and are searching for productive water, search for the presence of baitfish in and around the timber which you will find in the deeper water portions of the ditch. If you do not find bait, you will not find fish. Leave and check other similar areas. Start your search in 40 feet of

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water in the mouth of the ditch and work your way back. Start fishing when you find the bait. Technique: Once you find a creek arm that meets the above criteria, you must now determine how you are going to fish these potentially productive waters. Your approach should be determined by the location of the bait and time of day. Early in the mornings, active fish will often be positioned shallower in the ditch, towards the back and sometimes right in the middle. Your presentation speed should vary directly with the water temperature. The colder the water, the slower your presentation should be. Experiment with different lures and retrieve speeds to determine the optimum strike provoking presentation on any given day. Following are some baits and techniques to try as you explore the ditches on Lake Lanier: GA Blade Shad Spin – one of my favorite baits for this time of year. Cast this bait down the center of the ditches in which you have found bait and fish. Work the bait slowly on the bottom (or in the area of where you see the bait and fish suspended) and be alert for very light bites. Make sure to let the fish load up on the bait before you set the hook. That is the toughest part of this approach. It is easy to feel the first bite and immediately set the hook. Resist the temptation and keep reeling slowly until the fish “loads up”. Use a boot-tail type trailer as the water gets colder. The vibration of this type of trailer helps the fish zero in on the bait. Crankbait – When the fish are shallower in the ditches, particularly in the mornings, a crankbait can be an effective search bait. Fan cast the back of pockets and ditches with a crankbait and, as with the Super Spin, work the bait slowly and deliberately. The more the bait bumps and deflects off the bottom and acts erratically, the better. The Spro MD or Little John Baby DD are excellent options in the backs of creeks. Don’t forget to try the SPRO jerbaits as well. A McStick or McRip can be excellent options in the backs of these creek arms early in the morning. Overall, stay flexible in your approach and don’t be afraid to switch techniques! Jig/Worm – When the fish are not as active, a jig or worm fished in the ditches can be effective. Work the baits SLOWLY on the bottom. Make sure to pause the bait frequently and impart some pops and hops in the presentation. This can be key to triggering strikes. Play with color selection on both the jig and worm. Green pumpkin derivatives are usually

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a good place to start. I prefer the GA Jig options and will fish a worm on the GA Blade shaky heads as well. As the day progresses, particularly on sunny days, the bait and fish will move into the deeper portions of the ditch and will relate to the available cover, such as brush or standing timber. Presenting a GA Jig, dropshot worm by Lanier Baits, or jigging spoon to these fish can be effective as well. Make sure to experiment with different places and approaches as the lake fishes differently each day. Stay flexible and enjoy more success. Good luck and I’ll see ya’ll on the water! For more information or to book your winter trip, contact Jimbo on Lanier! 770-542-7764. Jimbo’s website: www.jimboonlanier.com.


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LOCAL LAKES AND FORECAST LAKE SEMINOLE Forecast By: by Capt. Paul Tyre paultyrefishing@yahoo.com

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The bass fishing on Lake Seminole has been very productive this fall. The water temperature has fallen down to the low 60’s, and the Flint and Chatahooche River arms of the lake have good stain. Spring Creek remains clear. We have been catching bass on a variety of lures from spinnerbaits and vibrating jigs to jerk baits. A 1/2 oz. double willow leaf War Eagle spinnerbait in chartreuse and white has produced very well. This bait works well at fast speeds to generate a reaction strike. The Untamed Tackle swim jig has been very productive this fall and expect it to continue to produce all the way into spring! This bait has a built-in quad trailer keeper that works! Jerk baits have worked well this fall. The key has been working them fast and at an erratic pace. The Strike King KVD jerk bait in the 200 series and the 300 series in any Shad color have worked well. The Strike KVD series is one of my favorite jerk baits because of its casting ability and action when worked at a fast erratic pace. The hybrid and stripers have been feeding up for the winter and are a lot of fun for the whole family! For a Lake Seminole Fishing Adventure this fall, give us a call at 850-264-7534or follow us on Instagram @ capt.paultyrefishing and

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LOCAL LAKES AND FORECAST HOLIDAY GIFTS FOR THAT OUTDOOR PERSON IN YOUR LIFE Dr. Andrew Cox The holiday season is upon us once again. If you are like me, you are most likely racking your brain to identify and purchase gifts for those important people in your life. Finding gifts for people who enjoy angling and outdoor pursuits can be a dilemma; it can be easy yet difficult to locate such gifts. Some anglers have a multitude of angling items and gadgets, so finding something that they do not already have can be difficult. On the other hand, finding a fishing item that they may actually use over the course of a fishing season can be another dilemma. This holiday season is particularly difficult with supply chain shortages making available gift selections slim at area stores and online shopping sites. I recently visited a big box outdoor supplier and was shocked at the limited stocks of available outdoor oriented items. As you search for holiday gift purchases, consider shopping at locally owned angling and sporting goods stores. These are many times small businesses that are the foundation of America’s economy and seem to be having a difficult time competing with the large, national, so called “big box” stores as well as online sales outlets. Over the years, many of these smaller family owned businesses have gone out of business. Browsing around these stores may provide some gifting ideas for those sportspersons in your life. Most of these smaller stores have knowledgeable sales staff with excellent customer service that can provide gift ideas to you geared towards the angler’s preferred type of fishing. Many times, these outlets carry tackle and product brands not found at big box tackle outlets or have specialty angling niches focused upon particular angling methods. Another thing that I enjoy about local sporting goods outlets, though they may have a smaller inventory, sometimes classic leftover stocks of lures and similar products no longer available at the big box or online sales outlets can be found. Finding 20 ATLANTA

DECEMBER 2021

original balsa Bang-a-Lures, Big O’s, or other discontinued tackle lines has occurred to me more than one time over the course of my browsing. As years go by, I seem to be doing more and more of my angling purchases through online outdoors and angling websites and vendors. These sites have a large inventory with a substantial array of items for selection. Multiple purchases can be made from your computer allowing completion of gift purchases for several persons at one time without leaving your office or home. This certainly saves time and the frustration dealing with crowds at various shopping areas. A disadvantage is that you can read about an item to be purchased, yet not able to view it until the item arrives at your location. Sometimes the quality or nature of the purchased item does not meet your expectations, requiring time and expense to initiate an item return and exchange. Like many anglers and other outdoor enthusiasts, I enjoy browsing around the big box outdoors stores. They have a large selection of items that can be picked up and viewed by the potential purchaser. Sometimes, though not always, sales and customer service staff are knowledgeable and can provide guidance relative to a particular product line or angling style. A disadvantage is that these outlets only carry selected product lines. Accordingly, you may not find the specialty or niche fishing items found at smaller, locally owned sporting goods stores. Good gift ideas for the angler or other outdoor person in your life do not have to be expensive. Food items, outdoor clothing and accessories, specialty angling tools and accessories such as pliers, hook hones, fish handling items such as grippers, as well as quality tackle storage items are good gift ideas. Don’t forget about homemade angling or angling oriented items. If you tie flies or jigs, making these in various color or size combinations are nice gifts. Flies and jigs

can range from fly rod size micro flies and jigs to more standard size lures for use with spinning and casting equipment. Fishing also seems to stimulate ones appetite. Prepared specialty and snack foods such as deer or beef jerky or similar foods that can be consumed while on the water are good gift items. I certainly spend my share of hard earned dollars at the big box stores and online angling websites. Their large inventories of fishing products in one location allowing purchase of multiple items are certainly a draw. However, remember to spread some of your wealth around to your local sporting goods outlets or specialty stores. Don’t forget about those special angling gifts that you can make. You just might be able to find the perfect gift for that sportsperson in your life this

holiday season; maybe even a gift that will be treasured for a lifetime. If all else fails relative to gifts for that hard to please outdoors person, you cannot go wrong with a gift certificate. This allows the receiver to choose their own items for purchase. Author’s Note: Dr. Andrew Cox is a contributing writer to outdoor publications and newspapers. His writing interests specialize in angling and travel, human interest, and general fishing technique oriented topics. 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 andrewtrout@aol.com.

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Finding gifts for people who enjoy angling and outdoor pursuits can be a dilemma; it can be easy yet difficult to locate such gifts.

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LAKE CHATUGE Eric Welch Welch’s Guide Service www.welchsguideservice. com 706-455-2323 Water temperature: 65- 67 degrees, lake level: 7.5 feet below full pool, clarity: clear. Fishing is getting better every day. The lake is down almost at winter pool. Once the sun starts breaking through the clouds, you should start seeing some breaking fish. The only problem with that is being in the right place at the right time. Some of the pockets have been having multiple schools of baitfish, so once they start busting the schools up, you have fish breaking all around you. If your luck is like mine, they are always just out of casting distance. You just got to have patience and try positioning yourself in the direction it looks like they are moving the herring. If you have the Garmin Livescope, you can watch and follow the bait.

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I like throwing Berkely Cane Walkers, Lucky Craft Gunfish, and a Whopper Plopper, and I will also mix in a Sebile Magic Swimmer and a 3.25 Strike King Sexy Swimmer. I have also been marking a lot of fish deep in 12’ to 35’. These fish are in areas where there is a ditch, drop-off or a long point. I target these fish with a Texas rig, shaky head, Ned Rig and a drop-shot. I’ve not been marking a lot off fish in the offshore structure, due to them chasing a lot of bait right now. I’ve also been catching fish with a drop-shot and a Ned Rig around rocky banks, laydowns and docks. When the water temps drop on down and the baitfish are not as active, you will see the fish go back to the structure. The next couple weeks should be some awesome fishing. Remember, we guide on 8 different lakes, so if you’re looking for some great fishing, give Welch’s Guide Service a call. We’re your #1 guide service, and we’ve been doing this since 2001. Good luck!


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LAKE ALLATOONA Forecast By: Joseph Martinelli 404-919-4918 December means great striper and hybrid fishing! We have thoroughly enjoyed the bite on Lake Allatoona throughout the entire month of November. December is typically the first month of winter here in Georgia and it shows just as much promise for quality fishing as in years past. Overall, the hybrid and striper fishing can be stellar most days. While it is often tough to beat an early morning bite, we will find days coming into December and later into the winter when you may as well not even start fishing until 10 AM. For targeting these hybrids and stripers, trolling some full-size umbrella rigs as well as Mini-Mack’s and deep diving crankbaits can sometimes fish circles around live bait. However, the very best go-to on our boats is going to be a threadfin or gizzard shad, trout or shiner downlined in combination with free lines. This is the time of year that we will start leaning toward gizzard shad and trout while we are hoping to target some of the better fish in the 8 to-12-pound class. Downlining might be as simple as a 1-2 oz. swivel style sinker with a 4 to-6-foot fluorocarbon leader tied on to an octopus hook. Typically, you want the biggest amount of the hook gap exposed while doing your best to use an appropriate size for the size bait being utilized. Again into the month of December, we are loving targeting some larger catfish that the reservoir has to offer. While techniques can vary here, but key thing to note is if you are going after these larger fish in the 20 to 30+ pound class, you should target them with appropriate weight tackle. A 25-pound flathead is still a formidable opponent and gives a good fight even when using 30-pound test and heavier line in combination with heavy action rods. The crappie and spotted bass bite are overall great as well during the winter here on Lake Allatoona. From pulling and pushing jigs and/or minnows to shooting docks and marinas for the crappie and for hunting spot-

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ted bass with Alabama rigs all the way up to monster swim baits as the waters continue to cool, he or she who targets these species can do very well during December. We are so pleased to announce our growing team of four, each having his own unique specialty, is made available all season long to take you out on a full-service adventure. We are pleased to have Capt. Hunter Moore on our team who will teach you how to target crappie on bridges, brush piles and docks and teach you tried and true techniques from pushing and pulling to shooting docks for the sac a lait to winter techniques for Allatoona spotted bass. Captain Jake H. will teach you so very much in a 4–6-hour session on catfish and can have you thinking like a catfish by the end of the trip. Then there is Captain Mike B. along with me to take you out for the love of the lineside here on Allatoona as well as a few other bodies of water. Please do not hesitate to reach out directly to us via call or text to 404-919-4918 or email us at Heronoutdooradventures@gmail.com We do hope that the anticipated forecast for December gives you a good starting point, and we wish you the happiest of holidays, blessings upon your families and tight lines, friends!

DECEMBER 2021

ATLANTA 21


LOCAL LAKES AND FORECAST JACKSON LAKE Forecast By: Ken Sturdivant kensturdivant@att.net Lake Jackson is down 7.2 feet with the water temperature in the 60s. Bass fishing is fair. Some bass have moved into the pockets following the movement of baitfish. Focus more of fishing in the pockets rather than the main lake. Long deep pockets may be most productive. A green jig/craw combo is ideal for targeting larger fish. Probe docks, brush, and other structure and work the pockets. Texas rigged finesse worms are also good for a bite and crankbaits should certainly be tried. A Bandit 200 and a #7 Shad Rap are good choices. Target flats and their edges in particular. Spinnerbaits and the chatterbait

are good choices, particularly in the early and evening hours. Start with the white Bandit crankbait on sea walls and around shallow cover. Work the crank through wood, rocks and around the docks. Work the wood cover and docks more thoroughly with a plastic and jig. Try a shaky rig for all around plastic fishing, but Texas rigged baits are working in brush cover on deeper docks. Finesse worms and crawfish patterns have been working well on shallow rock, docks and wood structure. Trick worms in watermelon seed will work on the shaky rig. Shad are primary forage for any schooling bass. Look for seasonal congregations of bait in the middle of deep pockets. Target the feeding bass with a crankbait and vertical presentations such as a spoon or plastic on a drop-shot rig.

LAKE HARTWELL By Preston Harden Bucktail Guide Service www.bucktailguideservice.com (706) 255-5622 Water temperature: 60 degrees, lake level: full pool. December is one of my favorite months to fish Lake Hartwell. The fall turnover should be complete, and the water turns a pretty green color. The game fish go on a feeding spree with the onset of winter coming. The seagulls arrive to lead you to active feeding schools. Stripers and hybrids can be anywhere from the dam to the upper reaches of the lake. Some days are better than others. The days before a front are best. The days after a front are the worst. Calm, cloudy days are my favorite. Blueback herring work, but I

like to fish a small bucktail jig with a small Fluke. I also like a small Scrounger jig head with a small Zoom Fluke in colors white ice, green albino or Arkansas shad. Largemouth and spotted bass are also active and are shallow. They move back into the creeks feeding up in preparation for winter. All game fish feed well until the water temp gets below 48 degrees, and this usually happens in early January. Then their metabolism slows down. The exception is the crappie as they will eat all winter.

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Forecast By: Capt Josh Thornton 770-530-6493 Crappie fishing is excellent. The jigs I had success with this week are the (monkey milk) white with a chartreuse tail and a small white hair jig with a yellow tail. Crappie can still be found on deep water brush. We have found large crappie at 35 to 40 feet deep on brush, and we are getting large numbers but smaller fish on docks. Use your electronics to locate structure or bush piles. Crappie love the shade, so cast into the shadows. When dock shooting, the biggest fish are usually the first to bite. Let your jig sink and give it time to get down to the fish and retrieve your jig slowly. I’m using ATX Lure Company’s plastics. I use 5-pound test high visibility yellow K9 braid for my line (unless I am using a bobber) and a Piscifun reel on an ACC Crappie Stix. I use Garmin Live Scope and the Navionics Boating app. Find me on Facebook and like

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my pages @crappieonlanier and @ fishingwitheverydayheroes.


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LOCAL LAKES AND FORECAST FISHING WITH SANTA By Capt. Cefus McRae Nuts & Bolts Fishing Series Hartwell, GA Sometimes, your wish can come true. I have a couple of the “Fishing Santa” ornaments we hang on the tree each year. I’m sure you’ve seen them. It’s the one that has him dressed in a Hawaiian shirt with white sunglasses and short pants, and for as long as I can remember, I’ve always wanted to fish with Santa. This summer, my Christmas wish materialized a little early. As a matter of fact, it was one of the hottest days in August. Kris Kringle, as he is called the rest of the year, showed up on a warm summer morning. He was dressed exactly as I expected in a Hawaiian shirt, shorts and those white sunglasses. As we left the dock, he reminded me that he was used to driving the sleigh. So we put him up top in the second station, gave him some reins, and the ShearWater sleigh came to life.

Instead of eight tiny reindeer, we had 500 Honda horses propelling us down Lake Hartwell at 50 miles per hour. At our first stop, a school of stripers came out to play. They were nothing huge, but nevertheless, a lot of fun, especially for someone who typically fishes ‘hard water’. Whenever a rod would bend, Buck the Wonder Dog let us know, and Kris handled the fish like an old pro. And speaking of old, some say Kris is 1,751 years old. Imagine how many cookies he’s eaten over those years! As the day wore on, we wrestled with stripers, hybrids, catfish and even a gar or two. Although the fishing was fun, the best part was simply having someone so full of joy on the boat. With each fish, I could see Kris’ eyes light up, his grin got bigger, and the belly-laugh got louder. By mid-afternoon, Kris had some nice catfish filets to take

home for dinner, and I had experienced an adventure like no other. For a few hours, I removed logic and practicality from my brain, and simply reveled in the moment. I was five years old again. I believed. In this era, it’s nice to have something to believe in, maybe not the reality of the person, but the spirit that person represents, and I do believe the spirit of Christmas lives in each of us. We just have to let it show. A kind gesture, a warm greeting, a helping hand, and the remembrance of what Christmas is really about is something we should

exhibit throughout the year. I think the world would be a better place as a result. Stay tuned for a new season of Nuts & Bolts of Fishing adventures on FOX Sports, CarbonTV and coming in 2022 on Amazon Prime. If you’d like a sneak peek at the Christmas in July episode, just drop by NutsAndBoltsFishing.com and get your Christmas started a little early too. From our family to yours, we wish you the happiest and most joyous holiday season. Tight lines and calm seas.

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LOCAL LAKES AND FORECAST LAKE EUFAULA

ROCKS AND BASS WILL ALWAYS GO TOGETHER! Contributed By: Jay Striker www.jaystriker.com As the weather becomes much cooler during December, it’s time to start paying attention to the rocks when it comes to bass fishing. Rocks are a tournament angler’s friend when trying to stave off going to the weigh in without a full live well, especially when the fishing can be tough in the fall and winter months. Allow me to bend your ear a bit and hopefully shed some light on why rocks and bass go together like fish and grits. This time of year, the places I first start to look for are the places that have rock(s), be it boat ramps, shallow roadbeds, riprap, sea walls or gravel flats, etc. The key here is the bass will be close because all of the aforementioned will hold heat longer and heat up the water column faster. There are other benefits that rocks provide bass, and one is having a migration route during season changes. Bass like to move where the food is, and when the baitfish are on the move, then you can bet the bass are too. Minnows and crawfish are in high supply when the rocks are holding heat and providing protection. The rocks provide an unlimited supply of food for minnows and crawfish alike. Unlike wood and weeds that

are rotting this time of year, rocks are the go-to structure for bass to pick up an easy meal. What are some good lure choices for fishing rocks? This time of year it’s hard to beat using a jig and pig to probe areas more thoroughly once the fish are located, and the Carolina rig will allow you to cover the rocks faster, especially on gravel flats and points. I tend to look for transition places, which are the areas where rock and some other type of irregularity exist. Bass tend to like rock composition to be diverse rather than consistent. Target areas where small rock meets bigger rocks or wood posts, bridge pilings, docks or just something that provides a little difference. You will increase your chances of getting bit. Let’s be clear. The number one reason why bass hang around rocks is food. The minnows are there feeding off of organic organisms, and the bass are feeding on them. When fishing rocks, you can also get away with using baits with open hooks, however, you will get hung a bit, but that’s how you know you are fishing right. Try using crankbaits, rattle baits, swim jigs, walking baits, and Fish Head Spins. You will increase your chances of hooking up with fish. When you get a chance to get out to the water this fall and winter, know that the sun is heating up the rocks, and the bass are nearby looking for a meal. Rocks and bass will always go together, and the glue that keeps them connected is heat and food. Find rocks with some type of irregularity and you will have a chance of catching more bass this fall and winter. Good luck!

By Capt Sam Williams hawk184@earthlink.net 334-687-6266 Water temperature: mid 60’s, lake level: 188.78 msl, clarity: stained. The water level has been holding steady for the past 10 days or so. The water is clearing up more each day. The fronts and barometer flipping around have all the fish confused and moving around. The shallow bass have been coming near cover and wood on Texas rigged trick worms and jigs with creature trailers. Blade baits and chatter baits with white, chartreuse and cole slaw colored trailers will get a strike as well. The red baits are still working also in the dirtier water. Lipless crankbaits and shallow cranks with a shad dot are doing well. If you don’t have the shad pattern, use a magic marker and put the dot on each side of your lure. The deep bass are eating Carolina rigged large worms and jigs with big trailers. You can also vertical jig with the large spoons to aggravate them into striking. If you find them on your electronics, be patient and keep messing with them to stir up a hit. Crappie are scattered. There are some being located in trash piles and structure in 12 to 18 feet of water. Minnows are the bait of choice,

and some are hitting a jig bounced just above them. Panfish are eating worms along the bank line. Catfish are being stubborn in these weather changes, but a few are being caught on jugs on the creek ledges and out on the river ledges. The wind and current will keep you busy chasing them on the outside, but when you get a big one on, it’s well worth the chase. The winter pattern is beginning to set in making it necessary to dress in layers to stay comfortable for a day on the water. There is still a lot of floating debris out on the river, so keep a close eye out. Some of what you see above the water has some bigger stuff under the surface. Do not run too close to it as you could mess up a prop. With hunting season kicking in, you do not find your honey hole crowded this time of year. Please visit www.alclassic.com and sign up for our newsletter. We will have some great auction items on the site in the near future for you to bid on and help us raise money for Niemann-Pick disease research to find a cure for these precious kids and Darby’s Warrior Support where we take our post 9/11 combat wounded and PTSD heroes hunting and fishing. Stay safe on the water and enjoy what God has provided for our enjoyment. God bless and good fishing.

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LOCAL LAKES AND FORECAST SPOTS ALL OVER BLUE RIDGE By Gary Turner

The rod bent over, touching the water! I grabbed it from the rod holder and reeled down on what felt like a big spot. I was reeling it up from 30 feet, and it was fighting and pulling drag. It made another big run and I started reeling down again. We could see some color now and it was a good spot. About that time it decided to make another run and snapped the line! Oh man, how I hate that! From spotted bass to sailfish and wahoo, I have had a broken line, and it’s worse when it’s my fault. I should have worked him a little easier. Eric Crowley, Artie Doughty and I are fishing the afternoon bite on Lake Blue Ridge in Blue Ridge, Ga. Eric had been booked up forever, so we finally decided that if we wanted to fish with him, we would need to take an afternoon trip when he finished his morning trip. When we arrived, he was unloading all the fish from the morning trip: walleye, channel catfish, yellow perch, largemouth and spotted bass. They had a great morning. The early morning perch bite had been hot. The fish were in 30-35 ft of water and were biting on small spoons and jigs. Most of the fish were about 10 inches, but some were in the 14 inch range. When we got there at noon, it had warmed up to 50° and the sun was bright. But with the breeze, 50° was still cool, so I grabbed my black Columbia rainsuit out of my truck

and put it on. It’s not only great for rain but beats wind and cool temps too. When the sun is bright, a lot of times the bite slows and the fish and bait disperse. Luckily for us, the spots don’t mind the sun as much. We were using live shad and catching lots of spots. After we had all caught several each, the bite slowed a little and we tried another location and caught several more. I broke off two more large fish, but that’s the way it goes sometimes. The water there is so clear you have to use really light leaders. We were using 4-pound, and I just am not used to using light line. I’m the guy that likes 10-pound PowerPro for bream and 50-pound for gar. When the bite had slowed again, we decided to troll. Eric set out four rods, and we began pulling assorted Rapalas at various distances behind the boat to achieve depth. You have to adjust your speed until you find the right one to produce reaction bites, usually between 1.5 and 3.5 mph. We had a great day on the water, and it even warmed up to 65° before we finished! I filmed a good bit of the trip and hope to have the video on my YouTube channel by next month. Eric is the master of catching walleye, spots and perch on both Carters Lake and Blue Ridge. If you want to catch fish on Carters Lake or Lake Blue Ridge, he is the person to

go with. His guide service is Lake and Stream Guide Service. You can get more information on fishing with Eric at his website, www.

lakeandstreamguideservice.com, and you can email him at lakeandstreamguideservice@gmail.com. He can also be reached at (706) 669-4973 when he is not fishing. I’m not sure what next month’s article will be on, but remember, if you have an empty seat on your boat that needs filling, shoot me an email and maybe it will be about fishing with you! You can reach me at gary@purgeright.com. Please remember, if you are not going to eat it, don’t kill it.

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LOCAL LAKES AND FORECAST LANIER STRIPERS

LAKE NOTTELY STRIPERS Trophy Striper Season is Here! Forecast By: Shane Goebel Big Ol’ Fish Guiding Service & The Angler Magazine Fishing Team www.bigolfish.com

If you like the thrill of a 30pound striper exploding on the end of your line as if a bowling ball was dropped on it from a two story building, then winter striper fishing in North Georgia is for you. These are by far the most wicked fighting freshwater fish around, and we are very fortunate to have several area lakes stocked with these monster fish. So come get your fish on with Lake Nottely and Lake Hiwassee’s #1 striper guide service, Big Ol’ Fish Guiding Service. Also, remember all of our December half day trips are $50 off and Christmas gift certificates are only $300. That’s a savings of $50. They make a perfect Christmas gift and can be used anytime. Sale ends January 1st. Check out our Facebook page or www.bigolfish. com for more details. Lake Nottely is currently about 11 feet below full pool. Water temps are still in the lower 60’s. Lake clarity is clear and stained in the backs of creeks. Striper fishing has been excellent lately. The big boys are really starting to feed. We’ve been catching tons of 15-30 pound fish every morning in all of our boats. These fish are still schooling up and headed towards shallow humps and into the creeks. Look for these big stripers anywhere around the lake, however, most

of our fish are being caught in the mouths and backs of creeks. This is a great time of year to start using bigger bait. Start off by pulling planer boards and free-lines early in the morning. Live bluebacks and gizzard shad are working best. Topwater bite has been wicked good and should be getting even better as the water continues to cool, so as you’re pulling baits, keep a RedFin or a Spook tied on and work those banks and points. As the sun comes up and the day gets warmer, the fish will move a little deeper. Switch to downlines and weighted freelines. Remember, this is the time of year to keep an eye out for seagulls. Where there are birds, there is bait, and where there is bait, there are fish. We want to wish everyone out there a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Thanks for an awesome year of fishing, and we hope to see you again in 2022. Remember, December is a fantastic month for catching a lot of monster stripers on this North Georgia lake. Give Big Ol’ Fish Guiding Service a call and let the area’s #1 rated guide service put you on some of Lake Nottely’s best trophy stripers during the fishing trip of a lifetime. We are Blairsville, GA’s premier full-time guide service, specializing in striped and hybrid bass. We also serve Lakes Hiwassee and Chatuge, and Lake Blue Ridge. So, come fish with the pros for the opportunity to be featured in Angler Magazine, and let us help you get your fish on!

Forecast by: Clay Cunningham www.catchingnotfishing.com 770-630-2673 The striper fishing on Lake Lanier is finally falling into the winter patterns. The bait is thickening up in the creeks and the stripers are following them. Live bait will be hard to beat in December. The topwater bite has just disappeared. The baitfish are now moving into the creeks in very large schools. Some of these schools are absolutely massive. Throughout the day, the stripers will move through this bait and feast. You want to be waiting on the stripers with the traditional downline with blueback herring and rainbow trout. Trout are already being used with success this winter. You will need the same setup for both of these baits, but you will need different size weights and hooks. Spool up a Penn Fathom II 20 reel with fifteen pound Trilene Big Game clear line paired with a Shakespeare striper rod. You can use this setup year round for stripers. Tie a Carolina rig on the end with a Capt. Mack 2 ounce swivel sinker and 5 foot leader of 15 pound Trilene 100% Flourocarbon and a Gamakatsu 3/0 octopus hook. If the trout are smaller, go with the 1/0 or 2/0 Gamakatsu Octopus hook. On the herring, use the smaller 1 ounce Capt. Mack swivel sinker. Also on the herring use a smaller size 1 Ga-

makatsu Finesse Wide Gap hook and 12 pound Trilene 100 % Flourocarbon. All of these details are important. These details will make the difference between fishing and catching. If you want to catch these fish on artificials, the spoon is a great choice. Tie on a Capt. Mack Super Spoon on a 6’6” Fenwick medium action rod paired with an Abu Garcia Revo X with 10 pound line and drop the spoon to the bottom and work it in a yo-yo type motion. Most of the bites will be on the fall of the spoon. The spoon bite has started early this year with some great catches of spotted bass with a few stripers mixed in. If you do see some surface action, keep a Berkley Spy tied on a spinning rod. To find where these deep pods of bait are located, first look for any birds. The birds always narrow your search. Now that you are in the right area, the proper electronics are crucial. On the Humminbird Solix, you can see these huge pods of bait and even see your bait swimming around on the hook around the schools of bait. During the winter, do not be afraid to fish in the middle of the day. Many times in the winter, the best fishing is during the warmest part of the day. There is no need to freeze at daylight. As an added bonus this time of year, there’s no wakeboard boats. See you on the water.

Merry Fishmas & A Happy New Year! 28 ATLANTA

DECEMBER 2021

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LOCAL LAKES AND FORECAST

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Water temperature: 56 degrees, lake level: -6 feet, clarity: 5 to 6 feet. December fishing on Carters isn’t always comfortable, but it can be well worth it. We have been mainly chasing walleye on Carters this fall by vertical jigging the tree edges. Big spoons or jigs with minnows has been the best bait choices. Look for walleye on the bottom near the timber. They are feeding and putting on weight for winter, and we are seeing some really nice fish. Early hours or in the dark is prime time for walleye as they hate sunshine. Target depth is about 50 feet. If you’re looking to striper fish this month, pull out the planer boards and head to the back of your favorite creek. I like to pull a mixed size of baits about 50 feet behind the boards at 1.5 mph. Starting at sunrise is key, and most days the striper bite is all

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Forecast by: Capt. Wes Carlton Georgia Lake Fishing 770-318-9777 www.georgialakefishing.com Water temperature: 59 degrees, lake level: down 2 feet, clarity: clear. Bass fishing: The bite has been consistent the last few days with the lake dropping a little from full pool. We have been targeting docks with swim baits. The Sebille Magic Swimmer has been producing some decent size fish with a few toad largemouths in tow. Finesse worms have also been catching a few spots around the docks and in a few of the creeks. The spotted bass are spread out all over the lake right now. We have caught fish shallow at 6 feet and

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deep at 30 feet. The ditch spoon bite should be turning on soon. Brown Trout: The trout seem to be congregated in the mouths of the creeks. We have seen a lot of topwater action the last week or so from trout rising on floating debris. This is a good time of year if you like light tackle spin gear or maybe even catching one on a fly! The topwater bite gets better every week as we head towards late December. Light colors such as white Rooster Tails and Phoebe spoons have been working well for these surfacing fish. They are also good baits to troll right now. Look for this bite to get better as we near January. Good luck!

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LOCAL LAKES AND FORECAST

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There is nothing better than a deep fried turkey for the holidays! I’m sharing some basic tips that will give you the juiciest holiday turkey ever. FRIED TURKEY SAFETY TIPS: Make sure turkey is fully thawed and dry, inside and out. Use your fryer outside in an open area and away from your house Lower turkey very slowly into hot oil (keeping it slow will help it not to boil over) INSTRUCTIONS Note: turkey must be completely thawed to fry it. Fill fryer with oil to max level and heat to 400F for about one hour (Read your machine’s owner manual for exact heating times). While oil is heating, remove turkey from package, remove anything from the cavities and rinse under cool water. Thoroughly dry with paper towels. The drier you get it, the crispier the skin (and the less chance of the oil spattering you). Inject melted butter into the breast. Use multiple injection sites all over to ensure there is butter everywhere! When oil is at the proper temperature, gently lower in the turkey. Note: it should be fully submerged in the oil. Cook for 3 minutes per pound plus 5 minutes, but please double check the owner’s manual for your specific fryer. When time is up, carefully remove turkey using heavy duty pot holders. Let rest 5-10 minutes. Slice and serve!

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Water temps should be in the 50s and low 60’s. Currently the lake is mostly clear and starting to drop slowly. Bass: Good - The shallow bite remains good now and could improve even more, especially if we get a warm rain. Baits such as unweighted Flukes, Senkos, Spooks and Whopper Ploppers are still catching fish. Try to fish these baits in or near cover or around schools of shallow baitfish. Fish the open water in the pockets with a spinnerbait, a Shad Rap, a Rat-L-Trap or a Flash-Mob Jr. rig. Pockets with a feeder creek or a little stained runoff seem to be best. Also, it doesn’t hurt to have a jig handy to pitch around any wood cover that is still in the water. During the month of December (especially if the lake level drops and it cools off more), the big schools of spots mixed with hybrids, white bass and stripers can be caught on jigging spoons and drop-shot rigs on deeper offshore structure in 18- 30 feet of water. Look for big schools of bait on your fish finders and concentrate your efforts on those areas. Linesides: Good - The downline bite with shad or bass shiners has improved greatly as the water has cooled off. Most of the fish seem to be holding 20 to 30 feet deep. As the water gets colder, these deep fish get easier to catch. They will “stay put” longer as they slow down with continued falling

water temps. Gulls and loons are here in December, which makes it easier to pinpoint schooling stripers, so keep your eyes open for birds diving. A 3/8 or 1/2-oz. white Rooster Tail, a chrome C.C. Spoon and a number of other small shad imitators have also been producing, and the colder it gets, the better the fishing usually is. As the water cools, casting or trolling a bucktail jig becomes very effective as well. You can also try trolling the Flash Mob Jr. rig. It can be very effective at times. The mouths of most creeks south of the 109 bridge, the edge of flats near the dam, and the mouth of Yellow Jacket Creek have been holding fish. Crappie: Good - Try tight-line fishing minnows or a 1/16-oz. or smaller jig around bridge pilings, brush piles, and blow downs in 6 to 15 feet of water. Concentrate on trees and brush that are close to the old creek channels. Pitching or shooting docks with small tube or feather jigs around or under the docks is also a very good technique during fall. As usual, crappie seem to love shade and cover. Cooler temps and some rain that stains the water a little should improve the fishing even more. Yellow Jacket, Wolf and Whitewater Creeks are still producing good strings of crappie. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! By the way, I do offer gift certificates that make a great Christmas gift! They can be used immediately or in the upcoming season, subject to availability. Thanks to all my loyal customers for another great year. I start taking bookings for the spring season in January, so if you want to go ahead and get on the books, you can contact me at HudsonsProBass@ gmail.com or through my website, LakeWestPointFishing.com.

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ATLANTA 31


Wall of Fame

WIN A FREE ANGLER MAGAZINE CAP! One will be given away each month for the best reader submitted photo!

WINNER!

Joe Dudewicz with a nice 8 lb.7oz. Lake Eufaula bass.

Bob Geresti had a great day of walleye fishing on Blue Ridge with Lake and Stream Guide Service.

Dave with a rainbow trout caught on the Toccoa River with Matt Morrision, Guide with Cohutta Fishing Company.

.

Bill Steiner with a rainbow trout caught with Drew Friedrich, guide with Cohutta Fishing Company. Gary Turner with a clown knife fish taken at Lake Ida, Delray Beach FL.

Trout guru Jimmy Harris from Unicoi Outfitters with a nice fly caught Lanier striper.

Jeff Hamm and partner Sean won the season division on Seminole on the Reel Money Team Trail. The 6.3 and 8.11 pounders helped with the win.

Carolina Slay caught her biggest striper on Carters Lake fishing with her dad at Fish Slayer Guide Service.


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CHANGES COMING FOR GULF OF MEXICO REGULATIONS

FWC PHOTO

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he Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council is considering changes that might affect regulations for recreational anglers in the Gulf of Mexico. The council is the regional authority charged with managing fisheries in federal waters of the Gulf, and it met Oct. 25-28 in Orange Beach, Alabama. The following is a summary of actions from that meeting. Cobia: The Gulf Group cobia stock is managed jointly with the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council and includes both the Gulf Zone and Florida East Coast Zone. A recent stock assessment showed Gulf Group cobia are not overfished but are experiencing overfishing. The Gulf Council chose to reduce Gulf Group Cobia stock overfishing limit, acceptable biological catch, and annual catch limits with an increasing yield stream for the years 2021-2023. The bottom line for anglers is: the council chose to retain the 36-inch fork length minimum size limit for cobia, reduce the daily possession limit to one fish per person and create a twofish vessel limit for both commercial and recreational sectors in the Gulf Zone. In the Florida East Coast Zone, the council decided to increase the minimum size limit to 36-inches fork length, reduce the daily possession limit to one fish per person, and create a two-fish vessel limit for both commercial and recreational sectors. These changes must be agreed upon by

the South Atlantic Council before they are submitted to the U.S. Secretary of Commerce for approval and implementation. Red Grouper: The Council took final action to increase the red grouper overfishing limit, acceptable biological catch, annual catch limits and annual catch targets. This recommendation, if implemented by the U.S. Secretary of Commerce, would set the stage for a loosening in regulations for red grouper. King Mackerel: A recent update stock assessment determined king mackerel is not overfished or experiencing overfishing. However, the spawning stock biomass was found to be below the level necessary to achieve maximum sustainable yield. The Gulf Council chose to retain the 24-

inch minimum size limit for king mackerel. The South Atlantic Council, which jointly manages the mackerel fishery, opted for a 22-inch fork length minimum size limit. The councils will have to reach agreement. Greater Amberjack: Greater amberjack is both overfished and experiencing overfishing. Catch-limit reductions are likely to come soon. Gag Grouper: Gag is both overfished and experiencing overfishing. A recent assessment indicated that a lack of males might be having an effect on the productivity of the stock. The council indicated it is not in favor of total closure. Catch-limit reductions are being considered. Vermilion Snapper: Increased vermilion snapper catch limits are being considered. A recent stock assessment determined that vermilion snapper is neither overfished or experiencing overfishing. After hearing public comment, which cautioned against increasing catch limits dramatically, the council recommended staff include alternatives with smaller increases than were recommended. The council selected a preferred alternative that would increase the vermilion snapper overfishing limit, acceptable biological catch, and annual catch. The Council will solicit public comment before taking final action.

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12 NATIONAL

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touch of a finger. The s y s t e m’s Home Button quickly moves tabs to the home position. Further simplifying operation are LEDs that indicate port and starboard tab positions. The dial controller also features Auto Brightness that senses ambient light conditions and adjusts the dial brightness for optimum visibility. Dometic’s all-electric actuators reduce complexity of the system while increasing longterm reliability. For instant response, quieter operation and a better boating experience, these actuators feature a planetary gearbox, hightorque DC motor and freewheeling Ball Screw

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49-year-old angler from Kingsland, Georgia landed a big red grouper off the Georgia coast on Oct. 4 that crushed the existing state record by nearly seven pounds. Bruce C. Bartlett Jr.’s 26-pound, 6.4-ounce fish measured 34.5 inches in length. It was certified by Georgia DNR and broke the existing record of 19 pounds, 7 ounces, which was caught by John Wren in 2012. The IGFA all-tackle world record weighed 42 pounds, 4 ounces. It was caught in 1997 off St. Augustine, Florida. Bartlett landed the red grouper using a 5-foot, 8-inch Ugly Stik Tiger rod with Shimano Torium reel with 65-pound Power Pro line using a live cigar minnow as bait. His terminal rig was a fish finder sinker slide with an 8-ounce bank sinker to a 100-pound barrel swivel, followed by a 60-pound fluorocarbon leader and 6/0 Eagle Claw circle hook. He was fishing east of Navy Tower R4, about 60 miles off of Cumberland Island, Georgia, aboard his boat Fishslaya Duece.

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ost bass released after tournament weigh-ins eventually return to the area where they caught. This interesting tidbit came from a research project conducted on Big Rideau Lake and was reported on by the nonprofit organization Blue Fish Canada. According to the report, researchers used acoustic tags to look into the survival rates and behaviors of bass after they were released at the weigh-in site. Over three tournaments, 88 largemouth and smallmouth bass were tagged before release. Their movements were tracked using sensors placed throughout the lake. Researchers selected each of the fish in the study based on whether the angler could accurately provide a location where the fish was caught. Upon release, the fish piled up within 300 meters of the release site for a short time before dispersing back toward the main lake. All of the bass eventually left the area. It took largemouths an average of 4.6 days to leave. The smallmouths were gone within a day. One of the researchers, Dr. Steven J. Cooke, told Blue Fish Canada’s Lawrence Gunther that each of the bass caught and tagged eventually returned to the area where they were originally caught. That’s pretty amazing, especially considering the size of the lake, which has a surface acreage of more than 100 square miles.

For more information on this study, go to bluefishcanada.ca.. COASTALANGLERMAG.COM • THEANGLERMAG.COM 201667_DOA_7.14_CAL ad_Coastal Angler_3.75x5.indd 1

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This big Wels was caught from Italy’s Po River in 2015 by Italian angler Dino Ferrari. It measured 8.8 feet long and weighed more than 265 pounds.

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MEET THE WELS CATFISH Europe’s Freshwater Monster By TAM Staff

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n late October, news of a giant wels catfish caught from Spain’s Ebro River made the rounds on the Internet. The fish, caught by British angler Mark Steward-Brown, weighed 234 pounds, according to Field & Stream. It was a monster fish, but it fell well short of the record for wels catfish. Although they are rare, it seems fish heavier than 200 pounds are caught every year in European fisheries. Fish heavier than 100 pounds are commonplace. Wels have a long time to grow during a lifespan of 50 years or more. The IGFA all-tackle world record was caught from Italy’s Po River in 2010. It measured longer than 9 feet in length and weighed 297 pounds. Fish like that are a good reason for hardcore catfish anglers to look into a European vacation. In U.S. waters, an angler might spend a lifetime pursuing a blue catfish heavier than 100 pounds. According to Field & Stream, Steward-Brown caught four fish heavier than 100 pounds during his first day fishing in Spain. Spain’s Ebro River, especially at Mequinenza Reservoir in the northeastern corner of the country, is renowned for good numbers of big fish. In northern Italy, the Po River and its delta on the Adriatic Sea, produced the world record as well as some other huge fish over the years. In France, the Rhone River and several of its tributaries have earned a reputation for big catfish. A Google search will reveal guide services and “holiday packages” offered for all of these destination fisheries and more. From an angler’s perspective, Wels are interesting species for more than just their massive size. Like all catfish, they are bottom feeders. They like stinky bait, and are often caught on pre-made bait-pellet rigs. However, they are also voracious predators with giant mouths. Many anglers prefer to pursue them with large, loud lures. Wels have poor eyesight, so vibration and noise are important. Their natural diet is made up mostly of earthworms, mollusks, insects and fish. As they grow larger, they begin feeding on anything they can fit in their mouths. Frogs, mice, rats and aquatic birds are all prey items. In southwestern France, an isolated population of Wels has learned to ambush pigeons on land, like orcas attack seals on the beach. That should be the cue for some innovative fly tyer to twist up an ultra-realistic pigeon fly. For more information, go to www.coastalanglermag.com.

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