Murky Water

Lake Oconee Fishing Report – April 15, 2022

Last week we had two days of severe weather in the area and it left the lake a mess with lots of flotsam and jetsam throughout the lake and piling up in coves. As you can see by the attached photo, the sedimentation throughout most of the lake makes it look like chocolate milk. That being said with last Sunday's temperatures approaching 70 degrees I couldn't resist heading out on my kayak to fish. I knew the bite would be difficult at best, but at least I'd get away from my desk and get some exercise. I set out to fish a cove I had not fished before, about a 2.5 mile pedal from the hotel. Winds were 6-12 mph so it was a bit of a slog getting there, but surprisingly the lake was nearly empty of boat traffic and it wasn't too bad getting there. I had planned to fish a point and flat outside the cove, but when I got there the wind had picked up and the wind direction wasn't conducive for drifting and picking apart the point so I moved right into the cove. I pitched a few docks on they way in with no luck. But again, when there's no vegetation around the docks it doesn't provide a good ambush point for bass to feed. Towards the back of the cove things got interesting with no docks, some muddy banks, lots of laydowns, and a feeder stream. If the lake hadn't been in such rough shape this would have been a great spot. As I moved further into the coves I targeted the shallows along the banks and the laydowns using a Jackhammer Chatterbait with a paddletail trailer. With the water as stained as it was, I wanted a bait with some vibration to it. I didn't have any takers, but I saw a nice 4-5 pound largemouth breach the surface but couldn't get her to bite. I switched to some finesse fishing with spinning gear and a Ned Rig, targeting the shallows and the brush. Still no takers. I switched back to my favorite baitcaster setup (Shimano Curado DC reel and Shimano Expride rod), this time with a big thumping Colorado blade spinnerbait with a black and blue skirt. This time I targeted the feeder stream area and that did the trick and I landed three largemouth in the 2 pound range. This is definitely an area I want to target again under better lake conditions and when teh water is a little warmer. Later in the week I took a break at the end of the day and fished the docks out back of the hotel and that's when things got interesting. Every time my bait hit the water it send the baitfish jumping and scrambling. That's a great sign when the baitfish start to move back into the coves. But it got better. I started hearing fish splashing, breaching the water, and making a ruckus. In the back of the cove the bass were pinning the baitfish up against the seawall and gorging themselves. I saw at least one 4 pounder breach the surface. Unfortunately, where that was happening was out of casting range because the Lure Eating Tree at the edge of our property was blocking any casts to that area. Still, I managed to land 4 smaller bass casting towards other areas in the back of the cove. One bit of advice - when you fish off of our docks DO NOT go into the neighbor's property to fish. That would be trespassing. The timing could not be more perfect with the baitfish heading into the coves as next week we have our first Fishing With The GM event on April 23rd. I hope to see kids of all ages join us on the docks that morning.
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Lake Oconee Fishing Report – April 5, 2022

The wind on Lake Oconee has been brutal for the past few weeks (at least on the days I wanted to fish) with gusts 20mph - 40 mph. With weather like that, it's been a bit too windy to head out on my kayak. That being said, over the past few weeks I did get out on the kayak once and fished off of the hotel docks on a few occasions. Fishing off of the docks in our cove I haven't run into and large bass so far this year. It's been all male bass under two pounds either along the riprap or in the middle of the channel in the cove. But the bite has been consistent on a white or white/chartreuse spinnerbait. I haven't fished any soft plastics in our cove because those are usually magnets for the small bluegills to peck at them as they go by. In the next week or so - if the weather cooperates - I will go out there and throw a small beetlespin and see if I can locate any crappie. I don't fish for catfish, but I have seen some decent sized catfish moving through our cove. A few guests left baited lines tied to our dock and those hooks were bare when I pulled them in. Just a word of advice - do not do that on our docks and never leave lines unattended. We will haul them in and toss them in the trash. It's not considerate to leave unattended lines in a public area with all the boaters and anglers we have at our hotel. Out on my kayak, the fishing has been much better. The day I went out last week the wind was a constant 8 - 12mph with gusts about 20 mph. Luckily, my Seastream Angler 120 PD is still very stable in the choppy water. But I did not spend a lot of time fishing open water because of the combination of wind driven waves and the wakes from heavy boat traffic. So on this outing I stayed within a few miles of the hotel. I targeted shallow areas looking for laydowns, soil banks, and the occasional riprap. The areas I fished are heavy with sediment, and on this outing I did not bring my electronics to keep an eye on depth so I did not push in as far as I wanted to for fear of banging up the pedal drive on my kayak. To me, Lake Oconee is a little weird because I never find bass hanging out in the laydowns and timber, although that's usually a great spot to go after crappie. But I found a number of 2+ pound bass (but nothing over 3.5 pounds) hugging the banks to make it a decent day on the water. Along with ditching the electronics that day, I also went light on the everything else bringing only two rods and a few Plano boxes of baits. Spinnerbaits worked once again, but no hits on rattletraps, Senkos, or any topwater baits. The most consistent bite was on an underspin with a 3.5" paddletail swimbait. I normally power fish with baitcasters, but recently picked up a new spinning reel to do some finesse fishing, mostly using a Ned Rig. While I have not used the Ned Rig yet on Lake Oconee, I was in a tournament up at Lake Russell in the last few weeks and while I caught a lot of spotted bass on the Ned Rig, none of them were a notable weight. The weather was brutal that day and the wind was ridiculous, and the winning bag was less than 15 pounds. I did manage a decent 3.5 pound largemouth bass on a big, Colorado blade spinnerbait. Lake Oconee is going into a transition period for bass fishing as the bass begin to spawn. The males will be aggressively guarding the beds and the females will be moving to deeper water to recover. And at about the time the females recover and start to feed again we'll get into the shad spawn. That's when the fishing here should be great. Look for the shad popping and throw a bait right in the middle of it. That will probably be your best chance to catch a big one on Lake Oconee this year. As a reminder, we have the first Fishing with the GM event coming up on April 23rd. All kids and adults staying at our hotel are invited to come out and fish with me on the docks. If there's any interest afterwards, you're welcome to join me on your own kayak or rent one of our hotel kayaks to do some fishing on other parts of the lake. We'll set off from the hotel and keep our excursion within three miles of the hotel.
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Largemouth Bass

Lake Oconee Fishing Report – March 6, 2022

2021 was not a great year for fishing on Lake Oconee, especially if you fish for largemouth bass. The oxygenation levels throughout most of the lake were low and there was very little vegetation throughout the lake. That made for lousy bass fishing. I caught a nice 6+ pound largemouth bass off our hotel docks in late February last year, but that turned out to be the highlight of the year. Once the warmer summer weather came I caught mostly caught crappie and stripers. The water was so warm around the hotel it felt like bathwater - not an ideal environment for fishing for anything other than panfish.. Last week I fished in a tournament and we fished the dam area, which traditionally provided better bass fishing in Lake Oconee. The surface water temperature was 60-62 degrees, and it was a blustery, cloudy day. In other words, it should have been a good, early season day to fish. I suppose if you like to fish strictly for quantity, it was a good day. But we never got on a lot of keepers.  We fished mainly points and flats, and with the numbers we were catching we made the incorrect assumption that we'd eventually run into some bigger bass. I had fished a few days before the tournament off our hotel docks and caught a 3 pounder and a few 2 pounders with a 3/8 oz white spinnerbait. But oddly enough, the bass weren't hitting it come tournament time. What worked that day was a green pumpkin chatterbait with a matching rage tail craw, a sexy shad colored crankbait, and a green pumpkin, Texas rigged Senko. I also caught a nice white crappie on the crankbait, and although I didn't weight it, it looked to be about two pounds. As it turned out, the winning boat fished the Lick Creek area near the hotel and pulled in 3 pounders and a few four pounders. So the next day I headed out on my pedal kayak and began breaking down that part of the lake. I use my electronics mainly for depth and temperature, but as I move I do look for baitfish and larger fish. I started by fishing points, flats, and the wood seawalls with no luck. Next, I began targeting the riprap along the shore. The sun beating on those rocks helps to radiate the heat in those areas, drawing in baitfish and predators. That paid off, as I landed two, four pound largemouth bass fishing rip rap in the coves. This weekend I headed out again, and with the water now at 63.5 degrees I started out fishing the riprap, but this time only found dinks. It was windy out, and being the first warm weekend of the spring there was a ton of boat traffic out there, meaning that when I fished open water I spent a lot of time jogging the pedals and working the rudder to keep my kayak positioned. These are not my favorite days to fish and why I prefer to fish coves instead of open water. With the usual spots nearer the hotel not paying off, I made a 2 mile jaunt against the current to another favorite area. It was a choppy trip with all of the wind and the boats, so I was thankful for my very stable, 12 foot Seastream Angler 120 PD kayak. With the sun warming things up, this time I targeted shade lines along grassy banks and managed to land a few two pounders on a chartreuse and white spinnerbait. On the way back I fished the causeway near the hotel with that same spinnerbait. I rarely see largemouth bass in this area, but there are usually stripers willing to hit a spinnerbait or a Beetlespin. While I did not land any stripers, I did land two hybrid bass, both just under three pounds. The hybrids usually put up a good fight, so they are a lot of fun to catch. Compared to where I used to fish on South Carolina, the fishing was slow for this time of year. But compared to last year, Lake Oconee is fishing much better. Supposedly, Georgia Power installed aerators over the winter, and that should help with the oxygenation throughout the lake as we hit the warmer months. I'll keep you posted. As a reminder, we have our first Fishing with the GM coming up on March 12th.  Kids and adults are invited to attend. We have a limited amount of tackle available, and we'll supply the redworms and nightcrawlers.
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