Georgia PFAs Open To Night Fishing

Craig James | May 4, 2018

Alan Mai with a nighttime bass that hit a black buzzbait.

As of May 1, the DNR began allowing nighttime fishing on Public Fishing Areas across the state. This allows more opportunities for fishermen to get a few more hours on the lake after the sun goes down and to dodge the sweltering late summer heat that plagues our state. The PFAs will be open to anglers 24 hours a day, and the nighttime fishing should be good on these state-managed lakes.

This special season runs from May 1-Sept. 30 and will apply to all Public Fishing Areas (with some specific restrictions), except Rocky Mountain PFA that will remain closed to night fishing.

To give readers a better idea of where to plan a night trip, GON reached out to the WRD Fisheries staff in each area for the latest info.

Starting in the center of the state, Marben PFA promises to offer up some great night action, according to Region Supervisor Steve Schleiger.

“We’ve been looking forward to offering these nighttime opportunities to anglers, and we are expecting some good stringers of fish to be caught,” Steve stated with excitement.

Marben has 20 ponds that harbor good populations of bass, crappie and catfish, all of which Steve believes will be worth targeting during night trips.

“There isn’t really a magic pond in my book. Focus shallow for bass, deep for catfish, and target crappie around deep structure,” Steve said.

Flat Creek PFA is also located in this region. Located in Houston County just a few miles off I-75 at exit 134, this area boast a sprawling 102-acre lake that is loaded with bass, bream, catfish and crappie.

Though the area doesn’t currently have camping facilities, the area is still a prime target for a night fishing trip this summer.

“Keep in mind, the smaller kids pond is closed to night time angling, but the big lake is going to offer up some great fishing, particularly late this summer. We also should have some lighting up on the pier soon, and this should attract a multitude of species,” Steve said.

Big Lazer Creek PFA is also located in Region 5 and is worth a mention of its own. The Talbot County public land boasts an impressive 195-acre lake, and it has a primitive campground available for those anglers who may want to make a weekend trip to the area.

“This area should be very productive for anglers who focus their efforts shallow for bass using topwater lures, such as buzzbaits, frogs and minnow plugs. The crappie fishing doesn’t need to be overlooked by anglers, either. I’m expecting to see some nice stringers this summer from anglers who fish in deep water around timber,” Steve said.

For those near Thomson, McDuffie PFA is home to several ponds, of which only Jones Lake will be open to night fishing.

“This PFA is home to our fish hatchery, and we have some DNR staff who live on the area, so for that reason, Jones Lake is the only lake we’re opening for nighttime fishing,” said Vernon Baldwin, area manager.

This PFA also has some of the best camping opportunities in the state, with tent and RV camping available for a modest $15 to $25 dollars a night.

Visitors to McDuffie need to park in the parking area on the north side of Jones Lake and can either launch a boat or walk around the lake’s perimeter to bank fish.

“We’re expecting some great fishing out here this summer. Bank and boat fishermen should find all species biting well on the area, particularly in late summer when daytime temperatures soar into the high 90s,” said Vernon.

Next up, Evans County PFA located in the southeast corner of the state near Claxton, is definitely a PFA that night anglers need to try to make a trip to this summer. The area has primitive camping available, and visitors that like all-night catfishing need to set aside a weekend later this summer to target some whisker fish on the area.

“Lake Longleaf (8 acres) is stocked with 3,000 eating-size catfish in June and then again in August. It’s definitely nonstop fun to catch these perfect eating-size catfish,” said Joel Flemming, the area’s biologist.

At 84 acres, Bidd Sands Lake is the area’s largest lake and should harbor up some fine bass fishing in June and July, according to Joel.

“There are lots of shallow lily pads, and anglers should work those areas with frogs to tempt nighttime bass. For those who want to cover lots of water fast, a buzzbait is the way to go. I expect anglers to catch both good numbers of fish and some quality fish in the 4- to 6-lb. range this summer on the lake,” Joel said.

In the south-central region, you will find four PFAs (Ocmulgee, Hugh M. Gillis, Dodge and Paradise PFA) all within a short drive of one another, and great fishing opportunities await at each.

Each area has nice facilities, with Paradise, Dodge and Ocmulgee offering primitive camping. You can contact the Waycross Fisheries Office for nightly rates, or for any other questions that you may have, at (912) 285-6094.

Carter Steed with a bluegill he caught after dark on a Glow Bug.

When GON reached out to Region 8 Region Supervisor Bert Deener, he was excited about the newly developed nighttime season.

“This is a great opportunity for those who can’t make a daytime trip to get out and enjoy some excellent fishing, avoiding July and August temperatures are an added bonus,” said Bert.

All four of the PFAs in this region are open for fishing, and the only off limits areas are kids’ ponds that will remain closed to nighttime angling.

“Catfish, bass and crappie should bite well on all areas. Focus your efforts on bass shallow, and fish for crappie around deeper structure, and expect some to be holding around the newly installed Hydro Glow lights on PFA piers, particularly as summer moves to fall. For catfish, try soaking shrimp, chicken livers or worms in deeper parts of lakes and ponds. Just remember, only pole and line fishing is allowed. No set hooks or jug fishing is permitted,” said Bert.

Bert also wanted to point out the no fires are permitted out of designated camping areas.

“Fires are only allowed in designated camping areas on Public Fishing Areas. It’s a major safety and property hazard to build one out of designated areas. We’re counting on anglers to come out, have a good time and follow all rules and regulations to make this special night fishing season a success,” Bert explained.

As stated earlier, the special nighttime fishing season will take place from May 1-Sept. 30.

Anglers who have area-specific questions concerning camping, fishing rules or other general info should refer to page 19 of the 2018 Sport Fishing Regulations Manual.

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  1. mottiece on June 23, 2019 at 4:33 pm

    I live in Fairburn GA, Fulton Co.
    Where are the PFA close to me. I’ve been in the area a couple years and I an ready for some Crappie fishing but don’t know where to go that is close to me.

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