Georgia-Florida Fishing Report
Lake Oconee, Georgia
Wallace Dam-Lake Oconee, Georgia
My son, Brett, as a toddler admiring Dad's hybrid bass catch out of Lake Oconee
Nice Flathead Catfish taken near 44 Bridge on Lake Oconee, GA
Another photo of some fat and healthy Lake Oconee hybrid bass taken in the Reef Donkey
My close coaching buddy, Willis McKithen, of Greensboro, GA is a fishing legend and frequents Lake Oconee every chance he gets. Here he's holding up 2 very nice largemouth bass caught out of Lake Oconee.
Coach McKithen strikes again with this monster Lake Oconee largemouth
At the Georgia-Florida Fishing Report there are a number of different freshwater and saltwater areas in Georgia and Florida that I am going to try to cover in detail. One of the best freshwater fishing areas in Georgia is Lake Oconee located in Greene, Morgan, and Putnam Counties near the cities of Greensboro, Madison, and Eatonton, GA.
Lake Oconee was created in 1979 by damming the Oconee River above Lake Sinclair. Georgia Power built the reservoir by constructing Wallace Dam that separates these 2 beautiful central Georgia Lakes. There are 374 miles of shoreline and the lake covers about 19,000 acres. The two rivers that comprise Lake Oconee are the Oconee and Apalachee Rivers where they converge just North of I-20 about midway between Atlanta and Augusta, GA.
The lake is a long, narrow body of water that is never over 1 mile wide and is relatively shallow as Georgia fishing reservoirs go. The average depth is only 21 feet and at its deepest (at Wallace Dam) it is only 95 feet deep.
But don't let that fool you. This great lake is home to some of the best largemouth bass, hybrid bass, white bass, catfish, and crappie fishing in the state and brings in thousands of fishermen every year.
Having given you readers a little background on Lake Oconee, let me share a little of my own inside fishing knowledge and experiences over the past 35 years.
Soon after Lake Oconee was completed in 1979, my brother Terry Richardson and I purchased a lot at Blue Springs where the Oconee and Apalachee Rivers meet. These were the great days of the lake when it was in its infancy. The catches were something of legend and we were there to enjoy it.
The white bass, largemouth, crappie and catfish were abundant and there was little to no pressure on these fish. I spent the next 10 years during the early days of my coaching career on Lake Oconee almost every day.
During those times it was mostly about largemouth bass on Carolina and Texas-rigged worms, spinnerbaits, rattletraps, and crankbaits.
Carolina rigged worm
Texas rigged worm
We crappie fished from the dock and in the multiple areas of trees that were left in the lake as fish attractors and ran baskets, trotlines, and jugs for catfish.
My brother had begun fishing for white, hybrid, and striped bass and the first time we encountered these fish in a schooling frenzy, I was hooked. Since then, most of my days spent on Lake Oconee and behind Wallace Dam on the Lake Sinclair side have been chasing these 3 species. I don't know what it is about them. Maybe it is their tenacity, their schooling nature, their good table fare, or all three. All I know is that it is the closest thing to saltwater fishing in freshwater I have been a part of.
Catching schooling fish of this nature is no problem. When they are hitting the surface and chasing bait it doesn't take much to entice them.
Popping cork setup
Popping corks with a top water teaser (called a thing popper) behind them is one way while inline spinners of most types work as well. The popping cork is fished like saltwater popping corks used to catch Spanish Mackerel or spotted seatrout. You simply cast, pull and retrieve in sporadic intervals. The cupped end of the cork makes a gurgling sound like that made by the hybrids as they are chasing bait on top while the teaser trails along on the surface enticing the bite.
Rooster Tail-Inline spinner
Inline spinners of many types are out there, but I usually go to the tried and true rooster tail in white on white.
Another method I have been using is what many people call a Norris rig. I assume it was named after the guide on Lake Oconee but I'm not quite sure. This is a trolling rig with a deep diving crankbait that has multiple trailing jigs with curly-tailed grubs of different types being dragged along. It is similar to an umbrella rig that many of you are familiar with (see picture below).
A third method of catching some healthy hybrid chunks is bottom jigging. Over the years we have used Hopkins and other types of spoons, but in the past few years the spoon of choice is the flex spoon.
The method here is again simple. Find a good hump where you are marking fish on your sounder and fish the hump from all angles. Check out the topmost portion as well as the inside and outside hump edges. Many times the fish will be stacked up ambushing bait on the channel side of the hump.
Let the spoon hit bottom and fish it almost like a plastic worm. The fish will usually hit the spoon on the downfall. I and most of my partners prefer the white/white or blue/white colors although green/white is also usually a good choice. These lures range in size from small 1/8 oz sizes up to 1 oz. My go-to sizes are in the higher range as they cast farther and sink faster. Stay in touch with your line as there is an art to this type of hybrid fishing.
Hybrid bass and striped bass are highly aggressive predators and really "turn on" when there is moving water. Luckily, Lake Oconee is a hydroelectric dam mainly built to produce electricity for the area. Georgia Power will generate on the pull and/or push back of water into the lake making for some great fishing at either time. However, on days that they are not pulling water, the bite can be nerve wrackingly slow. Lake Oconee usually stays close to full pool due to the daily push and pull of water into or out of the Lake.
A good friend of mine, Steve Cisson, may be one of the best hybrid fishermen on Lake Oconee and he has started using an Alabama rig that is similar, but smaller, than an umbrella rig. The umbrella rigs are trolled at about 3 mph 100 ft. or more behind the boat.
The Alabama rig casts easily and is fished somewhat like the spoons. I personally haven't tried this method, but he and big brother, Alvin Richardson, swear by it.
Blue Springs Marina Photos
Having lived within 1/2 mile of this marina on Lake Oconee for 10+ years, I really know the upper end of this reservoir. We have harvested black and white crappie, hybrid/striped/white bass, largemouth bass, and several species of catfish in this area by the hundreds. It is a prime fishing area away from the hustle and bustle of the "commercial" south end of the Lake. There are fewer jet skis, less fishing pressure, and plenty of opportunities to land that trophy freshwater fish you are targeting. You can go to the favorite websites page to view some of the fishing reports and local weather for Lake Oconee.
The Georgia-Florida Fishing Report posts its own Lake Oconee fishing reports on our blog and in our monthly newsletters. The first issue was sent out for November of 2014.
If you look to the top left of the photo, you can see where the Apalachee River is coming in and the top right of the photo the Oconee River is coming in. These two rivers meet at Blue Springs and Blue Springs Marina. For many years the Marina was owned by the Charles Baldwin family, but it is now owned and run by Bennie and Bobby. If you are up their way, stop in and give them a shout and tell them Captain Coach sent you.