The largemouth bass fishery has rebounded from the relatively poor 2011 fishing year. Expect average catches of largemouth to be around 13-16 inches and 2-3 pounds. Although numbers of 8-plus pound bass have declined in recent years, 2013 should produce excellent numbers of 3 to 4-pound fish. There is a 14-inch minimum length limit on the reservoir, but there are good numbers of legal-sized fish for tournament anglers as well. March through May is usually the best time for largemouth fishing, but anglers also experience good success January through mid- October.
Along with standard medium and shallow-running crankbaits, plastic worms, lizards, tube baits and jigs also are good baits to use during the spawning period (late March through April). Fish consistently are caught through the warmer months by using crankbaits and Carolina-rigged worms adjacent to abundant channel ledges. Rattle-baits fished near the top of hydrilla stands can be highly effective. Top-water lures such as Pop-Rs and buzzbaits can be good producers, especially during mornings of warmer months.
The numerous creeks and coves are the most productive areas for catching largemouth bass. Popular fishing areas include the three branches of Cowikee Creek - Grass, Rood and Pataula Creeks, Sandy Branch and the Highway 82 causeway area. Look for fish to be near shoreline vegetation especially March-May throughout the reservoir and in wind-protected areas. The recent introduction of grass carp in the reservoir by the USACE has limited much of the vegetation and many fish will relate to deep structure adjacent to the river and creek channels.
Hybrid Bass and Striped Bass
Among southwest Georgia reservoirs, hybrid fishing in Walter F. George is as good as it gets, with excellent numbers of 3 to 5-pound fish and some up to 8 pounds. Although not near as numerous as hybrids, stripers are periodically stocked in the reservoir and fish less than 10 pounds are harvested annually. Larger fish are occasionally caught, such as a 39 1/2 pounder taken from Pataula Creek in June of 2007.
Shiny artificial lures that imitate shad work well. Local anglers use spoons, rooster tails, Ratl-traps and deep-diving crankbaits. Some anglers have luck bottom fishing at night with chicken liver or dead shrimp, but the most popular fishing technique is trolling over sand flats in 10-15 feet of water. Anglers willing to catch and keep live threadfin shad can be rewarded with excellent success as well.
Good areas to try are found from Sandy Creek to Pataula Creek, near Cool Branch landing and just above the Hwy. 82 causeway. Flats adjacent to the river channel, 8-15 feet deep, are good areas to try. Hybrids are usually found near forage, and feeding gulls can often give away the location of schools of threadfin shad. During the warmer months, hybrids are often found in the lower end of the reservoir and are often found feeding near main-lake points and underwater islands.
Channel catfishing is excellent on Walter F. George, with average cats weighing 1-2 pounds, good numbers of 2-5 pound fish and the occasional 10-pounder or greater. There are good numbers of flathead catfish and blue catfish in the upper end of the reservoir and Chattahoochee River. Blue cats can be identified from channel cats by their relatively small head and longer, straight-edged anal fin (as opposed to a rounder anal fin in channel catfish).
Worms and blood baits will produce good results for both blue and channel catfish. Larger blue catfish typically are caught with cut gizzard or threadfin shad, whereas flathead catfish are typically caught with live bream.
Channel catfish can be found throughout the reservoir, from the back end of coves to deeper (15-20 foot) channel edges and flats. Blue and flathead catfish primarily are found in the upper end (above Lakepoint Marina), where fish larger than 20 pounds are available. The tailrace of Walter F. George can be a very productive spot during the cooler months for blue catfish. In fact, the state record blue (80 pounds, 4 ounces) was caught here in February of 2010.
Bream fishing includes bluegill and redear sunfish. Bluegill average 6-8 inches and redears average 7-9 inches. Excellent catches can be made from April through September, especially during May-June.
Red wigglers usually work best for redear sunfish and crickets generally for bluegill, although both baits can catch either fish. Some anglers fish with small jigs, worked slowly under bobbers.
Shallow ends of coves, creeks, and sloughs, especially above the Hwy. 82 causeway. The shallow flats from the East Bank boat ramp north to Sandy Creek often are productive sites for redear fishing. Redear fishing usually heats up in late April and lasts through June, which is when bluegill fishing is at its best. Fishing success often peaks around full-moon phases, as many fish move on to bedding areas.
Spring crappie fishing can be spectacular, both in numbers and in fish size. There are good numbers of 8 to -10-inch fish available and fish to 15 inches are not uncommon. Both daytime and night fishing under lights are effective March-June.
Minnows or jigs fished 12-16 feet deep. During mid march through May, spawning fish can additionally be found in water as shallow as a foot or two.
Favorite spots are creek mouths and under bridges. Other hotspots include Moccasin South, Pataula Creek, White Oak Creek, Rood Creek and Grass Creek. Bank anglers should try the fishing piers at Hardridge Creek and Florence Marina or the marked fishing areas at East Bank and River Bluff boat ramps. These fishing piers also are accessible to anglers with physical disabilities. Additionally, shoreline anglers can find success at the Eufaula National Wildlife Refuge south of Rood Creek.
While aquatic vegetation can produce positives in fishing success for largemouth bass and bream, the Corps of Engineers is concerned with the increases in hydrilla observed in recent years in Walter F. George reservoir. In addition to chemical treatments, the Corps of Engineers released grass carp in an attempt to control the further spread of hydrilla Anglers can help prevent the spread of hydrilla by inspecting their tackle, boat motor and trailer and by removing all plant fragments before entering or leaving boat ramps. More information is available at: http://www.sam.usace.army.mil/op/rec/wfg/News_Releases/FONSI-signed.pdf