Every year in the Southeast, January is our coldest month with resulting lake temperatures being so likewise. Across our North Georgia lakes, once the surface temperature reaches 50 degrees and ultimately bottoming out at about 40 degrees, a fishing bonanza comes into being.
Crappie, the second-best table fish from freshwater and Walleye, the best table fish from freshwater, are easily caught, fried and enjoyed. Wanna know where and how? Here it comes. Pay attention.
For Lanier, go to the large marina docks; Holiday, Aqualand, Bald Ridge, etc. (get permission first from marina management) and, with your portable fish finder, locate the docks where timber and tree tops have been anchored at 30 to 50 feet deep. You may have to search a few but they’re there. Using 4 to 6 pound line, anchor the bottom with a Road Runner and up the line at 12- to 15-inch spacings, tie on three red colored Tru-Turn Stand Out hooks with an ultra tiny plastic jig and minnow.
Now simply drop this down into the schools of crappie than you can see on the screen and you’ll catch a bucketful everyday before noon. One trick is not to reel up when you’ve hooked only one. Leave it there and other fishing will get charged up and bite the other baits too. I always take a large plastic bucket for my catch, not a stringer. You’ll be catching them so fast, taking time to “stringer” the fish and move to the next dock will take too long. The bucket will be full soon anyway. Your net should have an extra long handle. With four pound line you can’t lift two or three crappie out of the water so you have to net them while standing two feet off the water on the dock.
You can do this on the large reservoirs all over the Southeast and it’ll last through February when the days are longer and the water temperature begins to rise.
Now about the walleye. On the full moon in January and February, in north Georgia and Alabama and the mountain lakes in Tennessee, and the Carolinas, go up the rivers that feed the lakes. Doesn’t matter if there’s a dam above or running river, the walleye will go up the rivers to spawn. Two things … no three. If your boat is not hitting the bottom, you’re not far enough upriver. Secondly, use live nightcrawlers or shad. You may as well use the correct bait and walleye are true carnivores so live bait is the thing. The third thing is that they’ll only bite the first hour and last hour of the day.
If you are truly dedicated, use spring lizards and plastic Carolina Rigs overnight on the rocky points on Lake Blue Ridge up close to where the Toccoa River feeds the lake. The bite won’t begin until about midnight but you’ll get hundreds of bites and catch dozens of walleye. Gotta tell you though, by midnight then on into the darkness, you’ll know you’re paying a high physical price to catch a fish. Glad I did it but, at my age, won’t do it again. You guys do it and tell me about it.
With walleye, be sure of the state limit. It may not be a high number like crappie. Don’t break the rules.
Now go get ‘em!