SOCIAL CIRCLE — Springtime is not the only ideal time for crappie fishing in Georgia. The brief winter season also produces excellent results, and several reservoirs across the state offer rewards for anglers willing to brave the bitter cold temperatures.
"Fishing for crappie in the winter can be very rewarding if anglers concentrate on cold weather hot spots," says John Biagi, chief of Fisheries Management for the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division. "Also, because there is a lot of action involved when crappie fishing, it is an excellent time to engage the entire family and/or to introduce someone new to the fun aspect of the sport."
Now through mid-February crappie tend to congregate in deeper water, generally 15-30 feet deep, near the mouths of major tributaries and in the main lake. Large schools are easily located with sonar electronics.
As the water warms in late February, crappie will move to more shallow water toward the middle and back of major tributaries, preferring to congregate around woody cover such as stumps, logs, downed trees, fish attractors and creek ledges. Minnows and small jigs are favored bait, and light spinning tackle spooled with 6 or 8-pound test line is recommended.
Cool weather hot spots
In northwest Georgia, visit Lake Allatoona and look for the marked manmade fish attractors, especially near the Kellogg Creek area. Maps of fish attractor locations are available at www.gofishgeorgia.com . Also look to the Rocky Mountain Public Fishing Area, located 16 miles north of Rome, where good slabs are predicted this year and hot spots include fishing off of riprap dams. The Coosa River, which begins in Rome and flows roughly 30 miles west-southwest before entering Lake Weiss, is another area to target; concentrate below the lock and dam area, especially near Brush Branch.
Northeast Georgia offers three different reservoirs for targeting crappie. Metro area anglers should look to Lake Lanier, located just 50 miles northeast of Atlanta. The upper part of the reservoir, Wahoo Creek and Little River are hot spots. Anglers should also consider the upper part of Lake Hartwell, located on the Georgia-South Carolina border near Franklin and Hart counties. The Eastanollee Creek area is considered a crappie haven. The manmade fish attractors around the upper half of Lake Nottely rank as another active location.
Several east-central area lakes offer prime crappie habitat, including Clarks Hill Lake where excellent fishing is predicted for the year, especially at Soap, Fishing, Grays and Newford creeks, and the Little River arm. On Lake Oconee, Beaverdam, Sandy, Rocky, Richland and Sugar creeks and Appalachee River arm are good target areas.
Areas of standing timber are key targets at Lake Blalock while J.W. Smith offers good boat fishing around the Panhandle Road Bridge, the overflow structure near the dam and the submerged pond and dam on the south side of the lake. Anglers can count on Lake Varner for good numbers of crappie and Randy Poynter Lake for larger crappie.
For more information on crappie fishing in Georgia, go to www.gofishgeorgia.com or call a Wildlife Resources Division Fisheries Management office.