Lake Oconee Fishing Report – January 2019

GON Staff | December 23, 2018

Oconee: Level: Full pool. Temp: Upper 40s to low 50s. Clarity: Most of the lake has a heavy stain, except for Richland Creek.

Bass: Tournament angler Karl Pingry reports, “A recent ABA tournament had 27 boats, and  14  pounds won, but 11 boaters did not weigh in. Most of the lake is muddy from the rivers almost to the dam. Start in 1 to 4 feet of water, but retrieve your bait from the bank out to halfway to the boat. After the first hour, fish banks where your boat is sitting in 8 feet of water as you retrieve flat crankbaits, Shad Raps, ChatterBaits and spinnerbaits with Colorado, Indiana, and turtleback blades. It is not imperative that your bait stays in contact with the bottom. There are plenty of times the bass will suspend out from the 1- to 4-foot level after the first hour. If you can time it with three sunny days and fish the wind-protected areas, your odds improve. Fish down the sides of docks and fronts with both moving baits, worms and jigs if the sun gets up and stays out. Be patient, and saturate an area if you catch a fish of two. The bass will be in only small sections of a cove or bank along the main lake.”

Crappie: Fair. Guide Jody Stephens reports, “Crappie have been slowed to a crawl with all the fresh stained water as of mid-December. Stripers and hybrids are more active on live bait in Richland Creek.” Guide Al Bassett reports, “With the muddy, cold water, crappie fishing has slowed down. Once the water starts to clear up, fishing will pick back up a little. Best bet is to troll slowly in the mouths of the major creeks and coves, like the mouth of Sugar Creek and Lick Creek. Once we have a few warmer days in a row and the muddy water has moved down the lake, the fishing should start to pick up in the Oconee River on the flats above the Indian Mound. The Indian Mound is located on the Oconee River north of the 278 bridge. Use a lake map and find where there is an island north of the 278 bridge. The island is the Indian Mound. Go north up the river until you see a small windmill on the right bank. The water depth will be 4 to 6 feet deep. This is the flat north of the mound. Troll a Jiffy Jig 1/24- or 1/16-oz. in size in a darker color if the water is still stained. When the water starts to clear, go to a lighter color. You may want to tip the jig with a live minnow. Once you see what is working best, change that on the other rods.” Guide Doug Nelms reports, “The long poles have been calling to me all year, and we are just about ready to put them on the boat and spend the next couple of months concentrating on those big girly trophy crappie. January is still a smidgen early, but depending on the weather, the big fish will be headed up the lake into the hallowed Smokehouse and Redlands area. When they get there, they will stay typically until the last big moon in March. If we get about three ‘warm’ days in a row, the bite usually gets really good.”

Linesides: Guide Doug Nelms reports, “In January, we are in full-swing, combat, running-hard mode on Lake Oconee. Right now we are embracing the little white gulls that are showing us the crazy locations these fish and bait show up. The lower part of the lake will be filled with action, and we will watch the weather and wait on the nastiest weather to get here. Overcast, cold, drizzling rain makes these fish feed all day long, and on those days, it can just be unbelievably awesome. Most of the time I won’t carry live bait because I think we can boat three-to-one using ‘fake bait,’ as some of my customers like to call it. On my spinning rods, I will be using 1/8- to 1/4-oz. DOA short-shanked heads and the plastic will be a 3-inch Sassy Shad. I’m fishing it on a 7 1/2-foot St. Croix rod with a Penn Slammer 360 filled with braid. This is the best combination for throwing a mile to these fish. Be sure not to spook them with your big motor when you see them on top of the water, and there will be a lot of topwater action this month. Also, a three-arm A-rig is also a great choice. Some guys throw them, and some troll them, but either way you can’t go wrong with that offering. All the tackle mentioned above can be purchased at Sugar Creek Marina.”

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