The fisheries biologists with the Georgia Wildlife Resources Division (GWRD) are working every day to improve the fisheries and habitat at Lake Oconee and Lake Sinclair. Their activities include stocking fish species like hybrid and striped bass, building and placing fish attractors in the lakes and planting native grasses in the lakes. Those native grasses help prevent shoreline erosion and create shelters for fish fry and other lake life.
Annual stockings of hybrid and striped bass have been made to both lakes since the ‘90s to give anglers another resource to catch and eat. Previous stockings of striped bass in Lake Sinclair have not fared well since the construction and operation of the Wallace Dam began. The closing of Plant Branch should improve the ability of hybrid and striped bass to survive and do better since the hot water discharge has been removed.
Anglers prefer hybrid bass over striped bass so the GWRD is now stocking fewer striped bass in both lakes. This year hybrid bass and striped bass fingerlings were again stocked in Lake Oconee and Lake Sinclair over the last few months by the Georgia Wildlife Resources Division (GWRD).
Lake Oconee received 85,328 (4,5 fish/acre) striped bass and 282,477 (14.9 fish/acre) and Lake Sinclair received 64,119 striped bass (4.3 (fish/acre) and 122,427 hybrid bass (8.3 fish/acre). The stockings consisted of fingerlings that were 1 to 1 ½ inches in size.
More anglers and guides fish for both species at Lake Oconee and there is quite an angler following for hybrids and striped bass at Lake Oconee. Every year in the early spring the fish congregate at the Wallace Dam on Lake Oconee and anglers and guides take advantage of the great fishing using live shad and shiners before the fish move away from the dam and spread out over the lake where they are more difficult for the average angler to catch.
The pump-back operation at the Wallace Dam creates current and the current improves angler’s chances to catch both species. It creates conditions for surface feeding at both lakes but much better at Lake Oconee. Current improves angling success wherever the fish are located.
A popping cork and a white Rooster Tail are both good for surface feeding hybrid bass on either lake. During the summer months on both lakes, hybrid and striped bass can be caught casting or trolling crankbaits over ledges and points. Jigging spoons can be extremely effective during the summer and winter months.
Lake Oconee anglers and guides use quite an arsenal of things other than live shad and shiners to catch their fish. They depend on trolling Umbrella rigs to entice bites from hybrid/striped bass throughout the year in addition to the other offerings mentioned above.
Besides stockings, other activities are underway at both lakes by the GWRD to improve the fisheries. At Lake Oconee, fisheries biologists have already planted 650 native aquatic plants on the Apalachee arm of the lake and plan to plant another 800 plants in the mid-lake area this summer.
At Lake Sinclair, fisheries biologists have planted 225 aquatic plants to improve the fishery and have deployed 127 of their new porcupine fish attractors. They plan to deploy additional porcupine attractors this year.
Over the years GWRD has installed fish attractors throughout both lakes. I have an Excel file of GPS attractors for Lake Oconee that includes attractors installed through 2018 that I can send you with an email request.
The Fisheries Section that is responsible for Lake Sinclair has automated information for anglers so that not only can anglers look at and download the attractor data, anglers can use instructions provided at their website to automatically load the data into their GPS units.
To access Lake Sinclair fishing forecast and fish attractor data go to http://georgiawildlife.com/locations/fishing to a Lake Sinclair interactive map. If you continue zooming in on Lake Sinclair it will eventually indicate the fish attractors (stars) and their location. Pointing at the star will give you their GPS location.
In addition, if you want instructions on how to download the attractor GPS data for Lake Sinclair and also how to download that data into your GPS unit go to http://gadnrwrd.maps.arcgis.com/apps/MapJournal/index.html?appid=9ee51cf0ba3f4987b649ce5742e31e9a. Tab down on the left side of the page to see the instructions for downloading. The attractor data is only updated through 2017 but they are working to update the data file to include more recent attractors placed in the lake. To my knowledge, the download of attractor data is only available for Lake Sinclair.
If you have questions about the information in this article, just send me an emai. Good fishing and see you next.
Outdoor columnist Bobby Peoples can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.