Georgia’s fishing opportunities are nearly endless, with freshwater and saltwater options abounding. Georgia also boasts a unique landscape of mountains, coastline, and more, making it possible to catch many varieties of fish in vastly different landscapes, all within state lines.
The Georgia Department of Natural Resources has also taken the time and effort to upkeep over three dozen artificial reef areas that offer cover and food sources for many saltwater fish varieties.
In Northeast Georgia, you’ll find the mountains. In these mountains lies some of the best trout fishing in the nation, including two managed areas that will offer you extremely consistent trout fishing year-round. And beyond these great options, there are some of the best bass fishing lakes and public fishing locations that are accessible to anyone and offer amenities such as restrooms, docks, and picnic tables.
If you have a desire to fish, there are few locations that offer a greater multitude of options than the state of Georgia.
Freshwater Fishing in Georgia
As stated previously, Georgia boasts great freshwater fishing in mountainous streams and in large lakes alike. For trout fishing, you should look no further than the Chattahoochee River, and managed areas such as Dukes Creek and Waters Creek. If you’re looking to spend a day on the lake in search of bass, you’ll definitely want to check out either Lake Seminole in southern Georgia, Lake Hartwell in northern Georgia, or Lake Oconee in Central Georgia.
The Chattahoochee River was introduced with trout in the 60s and the species has been a recreational fishing mainstay ever since. Flowing south of Buford Dam, the waters of the Chattahoochee are prime for great fishing. Trout fishing on the Chattahoochee is open from the last Saturday in March through Halloween and you must have a special trout fishing license if over the age of 16 and under the age of 64.
Dukes Creek and Waters Creek are known for being managed trout fishing locations. Waters Creek is a part of the Chestatee Wildlife Management Area. Being managed means that these locations are catch and release (exceptions noted below) to allow fish to grow and are kept in prime condition.
You can fish Dukes Creek year-round by making arrangements with those who manage it ahead of time, as they only allow 15 people per morning and afternoon to fish the conservation area each Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday. The managed section of Dukes Creek is 4.5 miles long. Many say that the best time to fish Dukes Creek is in the Spring since this is when the trout will hatch, although any time of the year is suitable for fishing it.
Dukes Creek Conservation Area is not stocked, but since no fish are removed from this section, they can grow large. Waters Creek is similarly only open Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays, and is only open during trout season, not year-round.
Trout can be kept at Waters Creek if they exceed 22 inches for brown and rainbow and 18 inches for brook. Only one can be kept per day and only 3 total per person each year. Both streams only allow artificial lures with barbless hooks.
Lake Seminole on the Florida-Georgia line is a great bass fishing destination. The best bass fishing here occurs in late winter or early spring, with notable locations being where Flint River and Spring Creek meet the lake. Anglers recommend using crankbaits, plastic worms, spinners, or top waters lured along edges of the water and near cover.
Lake Hartwell has hosted the Bassmaster Classic, and for a reason. Similar to Lake Seminole, the bass fishing is best at the mouths of streams and rivers and in any coves near cover or the edges of the water. Since Lake Hartwell is on the state border, both states have agreed on common laws for the whole lake, and they’re relatively lax.
You need a fishing license except on permit-free days, the max number of fish to be kept is 50, and they follow minimum size requirements for each species.
Lake Oconee is one of the most picturesque lakes in Georgia and is nearby to some great resorts and golf courses. Bass below 11 inches and greater than 14 inches can be kept and any within those limits must be released.
Widely used baits and techniques include crankbaits and jigheads during the winter used off of points and in deep rocky areas. In the spring, spinners and shallow plastics work near shallow cover. In the summer deep divers should be used near points and river mouths. During the fall, use spinners and shallow lures in coves and near creek mouths.
Saltwater Fishing in Georgia
Georgia also offers great saltwater fishing for some of the most popular targeted fish. Of the extremely extensive list of saltwater spots in Georgia, certainly, the most popular spots are in the Golden Isles.
The Golden Isles are home to popular coastal locations such as Jekyll Island, St. Simons Island, and Sea Island. Jekyll Island and St. Simons are both home to a large fishing pier, making them great saltwater spots for those who might not have access to a charter or their own boat. The other popular pier in Georgia is the Tybee Island Pier.
From the pier, you can catch whiting, sheepshead, kingfish, silver perch, sharks, flounder, and Atlantic Croaker. Fishing in the Golden Isles is also spectacular for seatrout opportunities. Here you can catch up to 15 per person and can keep any size greater than 13 inches.
In St. Simons, shrimp is a popular bait and can be caught live in large holes. If smaller fish are being pesky and robbing your shrimp, try finger mullet to catch fish like flounder and seatrout. Using cut bait from Jekyll Island can work, especially if it’s fresh cut bait. Redfish, sharks and many other species will be attracted to bite-sized chunks of cut bait. If you’re looking for great vacationing and fishing, the Golden Isles are for you.
This is just a small sample of the extensive list of fishing opportunities and destinations in Georgia. It truly is a diverse fishing landscape that offers everything from rustic mountain fishing to more polished coastal fishing on charters departing from resorts.