Georgia Bream Ready To Bed

A statewide look at where to go sit on a bream bed.

Brad Gill | May 1, 2023

Whether your bread-and-butter is wigglers and crickets or Beetle Spins and bugs, May is a prime month to have some fishing fun while slinging baits to bream beds. 

GON reached out to the WRD Fisheries experts and asked these biologists what their top picks were for their areas. Below is what they had to say.

Region 1, Northwest GA

Rocky Mountain Public Fishing Area in Floyd County has three public fishing lakes that range from 154 to 203 acres in size. 

“All three impoundments are fertilized throughout the growing season, which means more and bigger fish for visitors,” said Jim Hakala, WRD Fisheries Region 1 Supervisor. “Like most Georgia waters, bluegill and redear sunfish (shellcrackers) dominate the bream fishery at the PFA. With the fertilization program supplying plenty of aquatic food, Rocky PFA’s bluegill and redear sunfish are abundant and often grow big. Eight- to 10-inch shellcrackers are fairly common with some broad-shouldered individuals solidly topping the 1-lb. mark. Finding bedded fish in the shallows is relatively easy, but don’t overlook hidden nesting colonies found on points or old roadbeds in 4 to 6 feet of water. While harder to find, these spawning congregations are often less skittish and more willing to bite time after time. A fish finder can go a long way to locating these deeper nesting fish. Automated fish feeders are also present at each lake. These can be great places to catch bream all summer long.  Rocky PFA has a wide array of amenities that include a campground, boat ramps, restrooms and plenty of bank fishing access. There is a $5 parking fee required. East and West Antioch lakes are open year-round from sunrise to sunset. Heath Lake is only open to fishing the first 10 days of every month.”

Arrowhead WMA in Armuchee offers some great youth-oriented fishing opportunities on a 15-acre lake located behind WRD’s Northwest Region Headquarters Office. The facility is open year-round from sunrise to sunset, and bank fishing access is great for children of all ages. While this is a youth-focused venue, adults may fish, but they must be accompanied by a child 17 years of age or younger.  

“Regular lake fertilization, automated fish feeders and plenty of quality habitat improvements have resulted in the creation of a great bream fishery in recent years,” said Jim. “Bluegill and shellcracker are abundant, and it’s not uncommon to see bream over a pound pulled from the lake. Worms and crickets fished below a bobber or on the bottom without a float are tried and true bream fishing tactics to try.”

Hickory Log Creek Reservoir is a 411-acre water-supply reservoir in the Canton that is another great lake to fish in Region 1.

“It is a relatively new impoundment that filled in 2011, and it was stocked with sportfish, to include bluegill and redear sunfish, in 2012,” said Jim. “Bank access is available, but this reservoir is best fished from a small boat. This is an electric only (no gas motors) boating reservoir, and there is one boat ramp located on the north end of the reservoir. There is a $5 parking fee, and the facility is open year-round from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. (8 p.m. in the summer months). Both bluegill and redear sunfish are abundant, and their size quality is good. The water is generally clear, so locating nesting colonies in the backs of the reservoir’s numerous coves is somewhat easy. There is still a fair bit of flooded brush along the shoreline that will hold bream all summer. Given the typically clear water conditions, stealth and smaller bait presentations are recommended. Bream holding in deeper water can be targeted using worms or crickets fished on drop-shot rigs.”

Region 2, Northeast GA

WRD Region 2 Supervisor Anthony Rabern sent GON seven picks for good bream fishing spots in northeast Georgia. Here are Anthony’s picks and bream fishing tips:

1. Lake Burton covers nearly 2,800 acres of water, but the shorelines around Moccasin Creek State Park and the Lake Burton Fish Hatchery offer the perfect blend of sand and clay that big bluegill and shellcracker use for spawning. The entire cove is an easy paddle on kayak or canoe. Look for circular depressions on the bottom around docks 

2. Lake Seed is a long, 250-acre reservoir, but it holds some hefty shellcrackers. You will need a boat to get to the honey hole, which is up the lake.  Look for the overhead powerline that crosses the lake and start fishing in that area. Shellcracker reach up to 2 pounds on this little run-of-the-river reservoir.  There is no parking fee required for the boat ramp.

3. Lake Rabun is around 800 acres, but two spots offer easy access to some good bream fishing. The first hot spot is along the Forest Service Boat Ramp on the north end of the lake. There is also a fishing pier a short walk away. This is also a great area to paddle. There is a $5 parking fee at this location. On the south end of the lake, Hall’s Marina holds a lot of bedding bream around its myriad of docks. There is no bank access at this location, so it is for boaters and paddlers only. There is no parking fee at this site.

4. Lake Chatuge is a 7,000-acre reservoir. Put in your boat or kayak at the Towns County Park. No parking fee is required. The bluegill in this lake reach half a pound. Fishing around the boat ramp and campground is easily accessible from the shoreline, but your best bet is to launch a boat or kayak and fish on the rocky bank just upstream of the campground or in the cove across the lake from the boat ramp.

5. Yahoola Water Supply Reservoir is a small lake that has one boat ramp and a walking trail around portions of the lake. Fishing from a small boat is preferred, and the best fishing is up the lake.

6. Don Carter State Park is located near the headwaters of Lake Lanier a few miles north of Gainesville.  

7. Fort Yargo State Park is located in Winder and has a 260-acre public-fishing lake with plenty of bank fishing access. A $5 parking fee is required.

Region 3, East-Central GA

WRD Fisheries Biologist Brandon Baker said, “At Marben PFA, Greenhouse Pond (6 acres) has a really good bluegill fishery. Most of the shoreline is available to bank access. There is not a boat ramp on Greenhouse Pond.  Parking is available beside the Clybel WMA archery range. If anglers want to clean any harvested fish, there’s a fish cleaning station a little farther after turning onto Murder Creek Church Road before Bennett Lake on the left. There are multiple fish feeders and fish attractors positioned within casting range from shore.”

Brandon reached out to some colleagues to get their thoughts, too. Below are two more lakes to consider.

Lake Oconee can provide anglers with fantastic opportunities for shellcracker. The best opportunities for targeting and catching these colorful sunfish are in late April through May in the Sugar Creek, Lick Creek and Apalachee River areas. These fish are generally located in 1 to 3 feet of water along seawalls, docks, overhanging bushes and patches of water willow grass. Fishing with small red worms, nightcrawlers, jigs and/or Beetle Spins around these cover types are very effective tactics.

Next, try the Savannah River around Augusta, including the Augusta Canal. According to one of Brandon’s co-workers, one of the best locations is upstream of the Stevens Creek Dam where the river is wide and loaded with aquatic vegetation, especially in a shallow, stumpy channel on the South Carolina side commonly referred to as the “Deepstep” area. The bluegill fishing is fantastic, but the shellcracker fishing is what really sets this place apart. This is an excellent area for trophy shellcracker, routinely producing 2-lb. fish, plus the South Carolina state record of 5-lbs., 7.5-ozs. was caught nearby. Fishing with small red wigglers or Beetle Spins around the edges of the vegetation or stumps are very effective tactics in this area. As always with bream fishing, focus on the full moons, especially in June.

Region 4, Southeast-Central GA

When asked about good fishing in Region 4, WRD Fisheries Biologist III Don Harrison said Paradise PFA is an obvious choice. It has more than 50 water bodies that range in size from less than an acre to more than 100 acres.

“Most of these lakes and ponds have excellent bank access for anglers, and there are fishing piers on three lakes (Patrick, Horseshoe 3 and Horseshoe 2),” said Don. “The nine largest lakes on the area have boat ramps with service docks for launching boats. According to the results of this spring’s standardized sampling efforts on these nine lakes, anglers may want to try lakes Bobben, Horseshoe 5, Russell, Patrick and Paradise for some larger bluegill and redear sunfish. 

“The area has a fish cleaning station, primitive campground and picnic area that anglers can also utilize. Reservations for the campground are made online at the following link

“While not necessarily panfish related, since most of these lakes are stocked heavily with channel catfish, individuals not located near Paradise PFA or other PFAs may want to look at attending one of the numerous Kid’s Fishing Events (KFE’s) around the state. A complete schedule of the events can be found at Paradise PFA hosts two large KFE’s annually. This year those events will be held on June 10 and Sept. 23. The September event is co-hosted by the NWTF and offers several other activities (i.e. archery, BB gun, skeet ranges, casting contest and more) for families attending the event.”

For more information on Paradise PFA, go to

We also got an email from WRD Senior Fisheries Biologist Tim Bonvechio, who mentioned Hugh M. Gillis PFA as a destination for bedding bream. Located in Laurens County, just east of Dublin, the property contains a 109-acre lake.

“The lake is intensively managed to provide excellent fishing for both boat and bank anglers and has numerous coves, points, submerged humps and standing timber to attract fish,” said Tim. “The fishing pier is a excellent place to catch a lake-record redear sunfish of 1-lb., 13.6-ozs., just like Bill Walden recently did back on March 30.  See WRD’s PFA lake records at

“Ocmulgee PFA (106 acres) and Dodge PFA (104 acres) also boast healthy redear sunfish exceeding 1 pound or more. Electrofishing samples this past spring showed all three areas have respectable redear and bluegill populations. Specifically, some redear sunfish were sampled up to 11 inches at Ocmulgee PFA.”

Dodge, Hugh M. Gillis, Ocmulgee, and Paradise PFAs all have active fish feeders that go off two to three times a day. These are magnets for bream.

Region 5, Southwest GA

When you think of bream fishing in this part of the state, most panfish hunters think about Lake Seminole as an obvious choice. 

“Lake Seminole is always a consistent producer of big redear sunfish (shellcracker). It is known for the large bedding areas, which can be found this time of year,” said Rob Weller, WRD Fisheries region supervisor. “Once a bedding area is located, most anglers fish with red wigglers to entice a bite. Looks for beds in 5 feet of water or less in and around sandy openings near vegetation. 

“House Pond at Silver Lake PFA is managed as a trophy bluegill pond. It is a 5-acre pond with a boat ramp and courtesy dock. It is stocked annually with harvestable-size bluegill, and plenty of supplemental feed is provided for them after stocking. It has periodic closures after stocking, and the limit is five bream with a minimum of 7 inches in length. Staff at the area have constructed two earthen fishing piers to provide shoreline access at House Pond.

“Also, Big Lazer PFA has two fishing piers for the shore angler, and bluegill can be caught almost anytime with crickets, worms and Beetle Spins. Big Lazer also has a paved ramp to provide boating access to this approximately 150-acre lake.”

Region 6, Southeast GA

The number of bigger reservoirs is lacking in this part of the state, but there are still places to catch bream. In addition to Okefenokee Swamp and several river systems, Evans County PFA gets the nod.

“Evans County PFA is a great place to enjoy bream fishing,” said  Joel Fleming, WRD fisheries biologist. “Lake Longleaf (8 acres) on this facility is primarily managed for channel catfish and Lake Woody (30 acres) is managed as a natural system without a great deal of fertilization and intensive management. Although bluegill is not a target management species in these two lakes, they do offer pretty good bluegill/shellcracker fisheries.  

“Bidd Sands Lake (84 acres) is managed for a variety of species, and bream are near the top of the list. This system is fertilized, when flow conditions permit, and is routinely supplied with fish feed to support better growth of the fish in the system. Regular feeding around the fishing pier attracts large numbers of bream to this area year-round. During spawning periods, anglers are often very successful at finding productive beds off sandy points (shellcracker) and in smaller coves and around structure (bluegill). From the bank, live bait (crickets and worms) is the best choice for most anglers.  

“Evans County PFA has many amenities that make it a great choice for family fishing. These include restrooms, a picnic pavilion, docks, plenty of bank access, a fish cleaning station and more. In addition, the area offers other amenities that are focused on activities beyond fishing, including a full service RV/Tent campground, a large event center with a commercial style kitchen, walking trails and archery ranges.”

According to WRD’s Jim Page, “For the angler who wants to incorporate a day of fishing with wilderness exploration, one of the great gems of Georgia is the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge. Located in the southern portion of our region along the Georgia/Florida border, this beautiful federally managed property consists of more than 300,000 acres of habitat for a multitude of aquatic, avian and terrestrial species. For the boater, expect to see a plethora of wildlife, including a multitude of alligators commonly swimming throughout the refuge.  For the angler, the tannic waters of this natural wonder are naturally acidic and create a challenging environment for some fish species to thrive, thus anglers hoping to target bluegill may come away disappointed. However, other fish species, like flier, can be found in high abundance within the waters of the refuge, and can be an absolute blast to pursue. Flier are a sunfish species similar to bluegill, though not as large in size.  However, what they lack in size they make up for in abundance, and anglers of any age looking to frequently set a hook will find the abundant flier population to be an exciting experience.”

City of Atlanta

With the business of life, some just don’t have much time to fish and can barely leave the sight of skyscrapers to make it happen. We got a fresh bream report from Keith Weaver, who manages WRD’s Gateway to Fishing program and is an expert on small-lake fishing opportunities, especially in the metro Atlanta area. His picks are below:

1. Lake Rutledge (Hard Labor Creek State Park): This small impoundment offers excellent bream fishing for those with or without a boat. Bank access is limited, but there is ample habitat for anglers to target. If you are willing to walk a little, there is bank access on the opposite side of the lake across from the boat ramp. For those with a small boat (10-horsepower limit), there is a small boat ramp (well kept) for those wishing to launch. This lake is extremely popular in the spring as fishing picks up in Georgia. Anglers should try live crickets targeting flooded timber or laydowns in 5 to 8 feet of water.  April and May are the most successful months, and the bite tapers off in mid-June as the water warms.  

2. Lake Marbury (Fort Yargo State Park) is an excellent fishery and offers anglers the opportunity to catch a full stringer. Bank access is plentiful, but walking the trails is a requirement.  However, with a little effort, anglers could find that hotspot that will yield a meal for the family that evening. Live crickets or worms are the ideal bait while targeting flooded timber and laydowns. There are plenty of opportunities on Lake Marbury. A boat ramp is located on the lake (10-horsepower limit) and would allow anglers to fish the entire lake.

3. Panola Mountain State Park:  Upper and Lower Alexander lakes offer excellent opportunities for a family to catch a mess of fish. Bank access is plentiful, which will allow anglers not to worry since a boat is not needed. Try targeting structure along the bank as it is obvious when visiting the park. Feeders are located on the lake and make excellent targets for anglers wishing to catch a stringer full.

Anglers who may live northern suburbs of Atlanta might consider some of the Gateway to Fishing Lakes listed below:

4. Gwinnett County: Tribble Mill (boat ramp; electric only), Rhodes Jordan Park (no boat ramp but bank access is plentiful), Club Drive (no boat ramp) and Lenora Park (no boat ramp).

5. Cobb County: All lakes listed do not have a boat ramp, but all have ample bank access. Lost Mountain, Hyde, Furr and Ebeneezer Lakes are small lakes and offer an excellent opportunity for families to spend a day fishing.

This is likely just a drop in the bucket of places to go and catch bream on the bed in the month of May. We just asked these guys for their top picks. If you don’t find yourself over a bream bed this month, it’s likely not your top priority, or you’re too busy with life.

It sure won’t be for a lack of places to go fishing! 

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