Submitted by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources
SOCIAL CIRCLE — Fishing for catfish is a summertime tradition in Georgia. From the experienced angler attempting to land a new state record to the grandfather taking his grandson on a first-time fishing trip, catfishing opportunities are abundant. With summertime nearing its peak, the Wildlife Resources Division is highlighting the hot weather hot spots and offering tips on technique and equipment for anglers of all skill levels. “Trying to reel in a catfish is a favorite pastime of many anglers in Georgia, and we are fortunate that we have so many locations where this experience is enjoyed,” says John Biagi, the division’s chief of Fisheries Management. “Catfish typically are found in waters close to home, require relatively simple gear and taste great on the dinner table - all good reasons to get out and fish!”
Georgia’s plentiful public waterways are home to several species of catfish, including channel, white, blue, flathead and bullheads (consisting of several similar species - yellow, brown, snail, spotted and flat). The larger species, blue, channel and flathead catfish, can grow to exceed 100 pounds.
Following are summer’s hot spots:
• Lake Nottely - Contains good populations of channel and white catfish (averaging one pound or less) and fewer, but larger flathead catfish (weighing up to 40 pounds).
• Lake Tugalo - Contains an abundant population of white catfish.
• Lake Marbury (Fort Yargo State Park) - Supports an excellent population of channel catfish.
• Lake Oconee - Supports high numbers of channel, blue, flathead, white and bullhead species of catfish.
• Flint River - Great location for flathead (5-30 pounds) or channel catfish.
• Andrews Lock and Dam (Chattahoochee River) - Best location in southwest Georgia for catching a flathead catfish exceeding 20 pounds.
• Lake Seminole - Good catches of channel catfish available throughout the summer.
• Lake Blackshear - Excellent channel catfish spot. Best places are the main lake and below Warwick Dam.
• Altamaha River - Great location for flathead catfish. The current flathead state record was caught here by Carl Sawyer in 2006 (83 pounds). The Altamaha boasts an additional state record catfish - the channel cat, caught by Bobby Smithwick in 1972 (44 pounds, 12 ounces).
• Satilla River - Excellent fishing available for channel catfish, white catfish and several species of bullheads.
• Southeast Georgia Public Fishing Areas (including Evans County PFA, Paradise PFA, Hugh M. Gillis PFA and Dodge County PFA) - Some of the best locations for channel catfish in southeast Georgia. The division recommends that anglers use a medium weight rod with either a spincasting or spinning reel.
• St. Marys River - Healthy populations of channel and white catfish are available.
As a rule, the species and size of catfish should dictate the fishing line used. If targeting channel and white catfish, Wildlife Resources biologists recommend 8-14 pound test line and medium size hooks (6 or 8) under a bobber and fished on the bottom.
For anglers trying to land a large flathead, heavy tackle is a must - large spinning or casting tackle with at least 20-50 pound test line with heavy weights to keep bait on the bottom.
Best baits for channel, bullheads and white catfish are worms, liver, live minnows, cut bait and stink bait. Recommended flathead bait: live goldfish, bream and shiners.
Anglers fishing rivers during the day should target deep holes that contain rock or woody structures. During dusk, dawn and at night, anglers should concentrate on shallow sandbars and shoals nearby the deep holes fished during the day.
Though most species of catfish are active throughout the day, the best summer fishing is at dusk and during the night. The best time of the year to fish for all catfish species is from early spring until the peak of summer.
A recent national survey indicated that 87 percent of Americans believe fishing and boating have a positive effect on family relationships. So take your family fishing and you will always have something in common.
For more information on fishing for catfish in Georgia, visit the Wildlife Resources Division online at www.gofishgeorgia.com.
Submitted by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources
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