Lake Oconee Fishing Report January 2018

Oconee: Level: Full pool. Temp: 55 degrees. Clarity: Clear.

Bass: Tournament angler Karl Pingry reports, “Look for the fish to move shallow near incoming warm water after any rain events. Some bass are still in the pockets or on channel swing bends holding on brush and rock. My best success has been a Texas-rigged worm, although a flatbait, ChatterBait and spinnerbait will also work. Other bass are moving to their winter depths of 16 to 25 feet. A drop shot and a spoon will be your go-to baits. Don’t overlook docks or shallow rocks if we get a couple of sunny, warm days in a row. Based on the weather pattern for December, remain versatile.”

Linesides: Guide Doug Nelms reports, “January begins a new year, but our unofficial fishing new year started about six weeks ago. The cold weather has brought the stripers into their wintertime pattern, and we have been having a big time. This time of year, it is important to have a few weapons in your arsenal when you chase linesides: live bait, spoons and topwater. There is really no need to throw your net this time of year because the fish are feeding on tiny threadfin shad, so we just purchase store-bought bass minnows. You want the bass minnows and not crappie minnows because they do better on the hook. Downlines will be the main spread I will have out, but sometimes if I mark fish up really high, I will put out a couple of flatlines. After the live-bait lines are out, I will grab a spoon and starting twitching it off the bottom. Most of the time, this is where you’re going to catch your bigger fish. A 3/4-oz. Hopkins spoon is a great offering. Use silver on sunny days and gold on cloudy days. I have used the Hopkins with the bucktails attached to the hooks, but a regular Hopkins Shorty will do the trick. Finally, be ready for topwater action at any time. A Baby Spook or any kind of A-rig (I realize that is really sub surface) or even those Hopkins spoons should be ready to toss at any moment. These fish will just decide to explode on bait without any warning, and if you’re ready to throw an offering, you will be greatly rewarded.”

Crappie: Guide Al Bassett reports, “Crappie fishing is currently slow. The fish are following the shad into the creeks around the lake. Trolling is the best way to catch a few fish. The bite is slow, so be a line watcher. By the end of the month, the water temperature should be down in the low 50s, and the fish will be staging at the mouth of the creek where they will be getting ready to spawn in January and February. Use your Lowrance HDS unit to fish in order to see what depth they are at before you start fishing. Best bait to troll is a Jiffy Jig in red/green/yellow or black/blue/black. Tip the jigs with live minnows. Another area to fish is the timber around the lake. Night fishing with lights off the side of the boat is great during this time of year.” Guide Doug Nelms reports, “It’s time to knock the dust off the long poles. Yay! Spider-rigged pushing is the play of the day starting this month. I look so forward to this time of the year because the water temps and fish movement set up so perfectly for pushing. Now I know Oconee is filled with pushers and pullers, and depending on who you talk to, they will tell you one way is better than the other. I really don’t know if this is the case or not. It seems like my bigger crappie always come when I am pushing, but it could be that the only time I push is January, February and March, when the big fish seem to show up. From my Ranger 2300 Bay boat, I will fish 12 rods, 16 feet in length, forward, not aft. It has been my experience that when pushing, the guys in the back don’t do as well as those in the front of the boat. I’m using 8-lb. Seaguar Red Label Fluorocarbon and 1/2-oz. weights. On the business end, you gotta go with Jiffy Jigs tipped with minnows. The colors I like this time of year are blue/black, sexy bug and the blue-ice that I have selfishly promoted as Doug Bugs. But if you have a sneaky color you would like to try out, just contact Jiffy Jigs, and they will make you any color under the sun. The crappie fishing is only going to get better for the next two months. As this month progresses, I will lean more to crappie fishing. Look at going out during the full and new moons. It seems to have a strong pull on our Oconee crappie.”

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