Oconee: Level: Full pool. Temp: 39 up the Apalachee, 45 degrees in Lick Creek and 49 at the dam. Clarity: Water is very clear on the north end.
Bass: Tournament angler Karl Pingry reports, “With two major cold fronts that iced over parts of the rivers and coves, a lot of the shallows experienced extremely cold temps in mid January. Fishing shallow has been really slow, and most of the fish I am catching are 6 to 14 feet deep on plastics or small crankbaits, and they are healthy. Look for some of these fish to move up and think about trying to spawn with a few more sunny days and a full moon at the end of January. I don’t think many will bed, but they should be looking. Some of my fish have a good belly of eggs already.”
Stripers: Guide Doug Nelms reports, “This is the time of year I wish I could clone myself. Everything starts going off, and there are so many fish to catch and not enough time or space to do it all. The stripers will get crazy as they begin their wintertime gorge in preparation for the spawn that will happen in a month’s time. Their favorite food will be those tiny, 2- and 3-inch shad that will show as thick, dark clouds on your Lowrance. Some of these bait balls are so thick that your fish finder will give you false readings of bottom-depth numbers because it can’t penetrate the mass of bait under your boat. This is where you will find your fish. This is the month when spoons and Sassy Shads rule the day. On my 3-inch Sassy Shad, I fish the 1/4-oz. DOA Short Shank head. I feel like the short shank gives the tiny lure plenty of room to wiggle its tail, and you also can cast it a mile. White pearl is my favorite color, but a lot of guys have done well with blue. I think the best bite comes on a steady retrieve through the bait schools, and I am using a 20-lb. braid with a 10-1b. fluorocarbon leader. On good spinning gear, there is nothing any deadlier. Sugar Creek Marina carries everything you need for this setup. On my spoon rods, we go with baitcasters with a fast retrieve. The War Eagle spoon presentation will vary from just twitching it off the bottom to power reeling it through the bait clouds. You can also catch a lot of fish with live shad or bass minnows on downlines. On every trip, all of the above will be on board.”