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Six Must-try Fishing Trips in Georgia

  • Blackhawk Fly Fishing

    David Zelski from Georgia Public Broadcasting's "Georgia Traveler" fishes with Blackhawk's Abby Jackson.

For great fishing in Georgia, you can’t go wrong with these six trip ideas. Why not try them all?

Catch shark and tarpon off the Georgia coast

 

Captain Mark Noble shows off a catch
Captain Mark Noble shows off a catch

Want a big one to stretch your string? Employ Captain Mark Noble in St. Simons and follow along one of the shrimp boats as they harvest shrimp from the fertile waters off Jekyll Island. Mark can easily handle a charter for three fishermen with the mutual target being the spinner and blacktip sharks that feast on the by-catch as the shrimpers scourer the sandy bottoms of the bay. Using heavy tackle and live baits, you will hook a shark in the territory of 30 to 100 pounds on every cast. Every pass behind the trawling nets will yield all fishermen a hookup. Yes, every cast. These rascals are heavy-duty fighters and will truly give you an exciting day. You and your party will likely have had enough back breaking, line stretching, bulldogging by lunch time.

Did I say tarpon? Should have. Mark Noble is the No. 1 tarpon guide on the Georgia coast, and the summer months are the most reliable for the silver-sided giants. Jump six to 10 per day, hook, catch and photo 150-pound trophies. After an hour’s fight, I know you’ll be tired but still smiling.

Fish for striper in Lake Lanier



How about fresh water stripers? Call Mack Farr at Lake Lanier and enjoy a lesson in angling. What’s your ticket: spooning, trolling, live bait, top-water? The seasons dictate the tactic, and Captain Mack Farr is a master in generating many big hook-ups. Surprisingly so, the hot summer just may provide the most reliable action, but no matter when, for an easy reach for one of the biggest gamefish in the waters in Georgia, Lanier and Mack Farr can make it happen. Mack has guided on Lanier for more than 30 years, so his experience is easily conveyed and understood. This is a terrific charter to bring along a youngster. Usually, there is little casting and reeling involved, so even a youngster can handle the rod for an exciting hookup with Mr. Linesides in the territory of 6 to 20 pounds.

Catch crappie in Lake Oconee

Al Bassett and youngsters with their catches at Lake Oconee
Al Bassett and youngsters with their catches at Lake Oconee

Want to fill a cooler full of tasty crappie filets? Call Al Bassett at Lake Oconee. Big Al has been providing tubs of crappie for client’s live wells for decades. No matter what the season, Al has the crappie schools’ locations all figured out and will place you in the vicinity on short notice. Trolling, jigging, docks, summer time flats, shallow spawning, Al will escort you to the fertile areas and harvest a bunch. Light tackle, light line, jigs and live bait, old “paper mouth” is in big trouble when Al has a charter. Bring a big cooler and fill it. With a limit of 35 per person, a big wiggly pile of crappie is gathered in short order.

Fly fishing on the Soque River

For a fly fisherman’s dream trip, spend a full day at Blackhawk Fly Fishing on the Soque River nine miles north of Clarksville, only an hour’s driving time from Atlanta. Soque is a pristine trophy mountain stream with easy access and is loaded with 24-inch rainbow trout and 26- to 30-inch brown trout. You’ll be fly fishing within a corridor of overhanging hemlocks into gentle pools and long fast runs rarely more than 40 feet wide. I advise fishing in the early morning, have a scrumptious “field to fork” lunch prepared by proprietor Abby Jackson, and return to the bubbling waters for more action. Want to stay overnight in a 1860s restored farmhouse and with lots of character and vintage charm? You certainly can. All the trout are cared for by your guide and returned to the cool waters alive after the obligatory photos. A typical full day will result in your catch being 20 rainbows in the 18- to 24-inch range with browns at 26 to 30 inches. Blackhawk is open all year except July and August.

Fly fishing in North Georgia lakes

Henry Cowen shows off a fly-caught striper
Henry Cowen shows off a fly-caught striper

We really shouldn’t leave out the big lake fly guys. Henry Cowen is the guy for Lakes Lanier, Allatoona and Hartwell. Spotted bass, stripers, hybrids, you name it, Henry is always in touch with the surface-feeding critters and how to catch them on the fly. What’s the key? Henry fishes every day — every single day —  and truly stays in touch. If you want to venture into the world of big lake fly fishing, Henry’s your guide; 8 pound hybrids, 25 pound stripers and 5 pound spots all on the fly. Give Henry a call, but be alert, his Brooklyn accent will startle you, but relax and enjoy a great day with a great guide.

Fish with the family at public fishing areas and state parks

Fort Yargo State Park in Winder, Ga., has a 260-acre lake, perfect for fishing.
Fort Yargo State Park in Winder, Ga., has a 260-acre lake, perfect for fishing.

For my final pick, there is no guide involved, nor is one needed, but you can make family memories that will last a lifetime. For many anglers, fond childhood memories involve a family fishing trip resulting in a stringer of bream. So, don’t delay – take them fishing today! Visit a nearby public fishing area (PFA) managed by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) Wildlife Resources Division. The DNR operates and manages 10 PFAs across the state in an effort to provide the best possible fishing and access for family-friendly outings. Bluegill and redear sunfish, both part of the bream family, are stocked on nearly every PFA pond or lake. Bring along a few cans of Fisher’s Choice crickets, meal worms and shrimp. Each has been cooked and is preserved but smells, looks and works just like a fresh bait, is easy to use and lasts and lasts. Want to make the adventure fulfilling? Take your family to a Georgia State Park with a public fishing area contained, watch the light tackle floats disappear with a big old bream tugging it down and photograph your child with a never-ending smile.

 

O'Neill Williams

O’Neill Williams is host, creator and producer for the weekly O’Neill Outside television and radio shows. Born in Atlanta and a graduate of Emory University, Williams has been a television fishing personality for 35 years with shows titled “Fishing in Georgia,” “Southern Fishing” and “Reel Adventures.” He and his wife live in North Georgia, where they often broadcast the Saturday morning radio show.

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