White Bass Are First “Fresh Catch” of the Georgian Spring
As early as February, white bass begin spawning runs up several Georgia rivers. The migration continues through early April, making March the ideal time to target the popular sport fish. Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division Fisheries biologists recommend fishing the tributaries to Clarks Hill Lake and the Oconee, Apalachee, Coosa and Chattahoochee (near Franklin) rivers.
“Fishing for white bass during the spring spawning run is a great deal of fun, and trips taken during that time will likely turn into fond memories,” says Wildlife Resources Division Fisheries Chief John Biagi. “The good news is that if the white bass action slows, there’s no need to worry, because the white bass’ bigger cousins, stripers and hybrids, also are out there waiting to be caught.”
Silvery in hue, white bass have several faint horizontal stripes. They travel in schools and can be found in large streams, rivers and lakes.
The current state record was caught on Lake Lanier in 1971, weighing in at 5 lbs., 1 oz. Typical weights range from ½ to 2 lbs.
The following lures are recommended: white, chartreuse or shad patterned jigs with small to medium size heads that can handle the current and manage not to sink too fast; small crankbaits, curly tail grubs, Rooster Tails and Little Georges. The best live baits are minnows and small shad. Anglers should concentrate on creek mouths and fallen trees with good water flow around them on the main river. Sandy bars and banks also are excellent white bass fishing locations.
Where to go:
- Coosa River: White bass congregate in the upper Coosa as they make their annual upstream spawning run from Lake Weiss. The area around Mayo’s Bar Lock and Dam is a prime fishing spot and perfect for families as there also is a county park with bait, supplies, restrooms and camping. The area has a paved boat ramp and is good for the boat and bank angler alike. Good white bass fishing also can be found from the lock and dam down to the Ga. Hwy. 100 crossing.
- Oconee & Apalachee River: Anglers can access the Oconee River at the Dyar’s Pasture boat ramp and the SR 15 boat ramp, both in Greene County, and work their way upstream. Bank access is available at the Dyar’s Pasture site. The Apalachee can be accessed at the Swords boat ramp in Morgan County. Anglers are advised to exercise caution as the upper reaches of these rivers may be shallow.
- Clarks Hill Lake: White bass fishing in the Little and Broad rivers of this lake is excellent this time of year. Anglers can access Little River (by boat or bank) at the Hwy. 78 crossing (note: fallen trees may limit boat access). Bank access is available at the Hwy. 80 crossing on the Clarks Hill Wildlife Management Area. Though, low water levels may keep these fish from running that far upstream. Access for Broad River is available at Gill Point Recreation Area and Bobby Brown State Park. Anglers should pay careful attention for stumps, rocks, sandbars and other submerged or nearly submerged objects in the lake as low lake levels are expected to persist throughout the spring. Fish tend to congregate around Anthony Shoals, located about two miles upstream of Hwy. 79 where anglers can fish by boat or bank. Use caution boating upstream of Hwy. 79 as the river channel is narrow and difficult to navigate. Bank access is good through the Broad River Wildlife Management Area. Anglers also can consider bringing waders for a different approach.
- Chattahoochee River: A Chattahoochee hot spot is found in the upper reaches of West Point Reservoir near the town of Franklin. Anglers should target the mouth of New River and work their way up towards Franklin. As the flows and temperatures begin to rise, the fish move up river towards the shoals above Franklin. Boat anglers can access this reach by running up river from Snake Creek access on West Point Lake or from Riverside Park boat ramp adjacent to downtown Franklin off SR 100 (Old Hwy. 27). Bank fishing access also is available at this boat ramp.
For more information on white bass fishing in Georgia, visit www.gofishgeorgia.com or contact the nearest Wildlife Resources Division Fisheries Management Section office.
Take Me Fishing! ™ According to a recent national survey, 87 percent of Americans believe fishing and boating have a positive effect on family relationships. So, turn your quality fishing time into quality family time and create a fun, meaningful family tradition