Lake Sinclair’s 14,750 acres and Lake Oconee’s 19,050 acres are owned and operated by Georgia Power. Both lakes offer good fishing throughout the year, and the fall and winter seasons are exceptional times to be on the water. The transition from the hot humid days of summer to the cool, crisp mornings of fall finally arrived this year and that is a welcome relief for area anglers.
Anglers who understand the impact of weather changes during fall and winter will have greater success at catching fish. Both the fall and winter seasons are filled with cold fronts and changing weather patterns and they will have a serious impact on where the fish are located in the lake and whether or not the fish will be in a biting mood.
The transition to the fall fishing season was slow to develop this year, but we are finally seeing the changes that fall brings as the overnight and early morning air temperatures have begun to drop into the upper 30s and 40s and the daytime air temperatures have dropped into the 50s and 60s. The water temperature in both lakes has now dropped out of the 70s and into the 60s.
That drop-in air temperature has finally resulted in falling water temperatures, and those falling water temperatures have signaled the reservoirs’ fish that change is here. The water temperature will continue to drop until it reaches the mid to high 40s and that will, hopefully, occur in January.
But nothing is assured about the weather and seasonal changes. Last year, we had very little cold winter weather, and this year’s fall weather was slow to get started. Here, we are just past Thanksgiving and we have had no freezing weather and only a couple of nights have seen the temperature even drop into the upper 30s. The long-range weather forecast for our area predicts another mild winter. However, the 10-day forecast for our area predicts a nighttime freeze on Dec. 1.
Anglers had to wait for the fall feeding frenzy this year due to the warm weather. This period will see most game fish move into shallow water for one huge feeding binge before the arrival of winter. Without colder weather, this period might last throughout the month of December. It all depends on the water temperature. Game fish will feed but not as much during the dead of winter. They will use the fall feeding frenzy to fatten up for the winter months.
The secret to catching fish during the fall and winter seasons is finding schools of baitfish. During the fall, they can be found almost anywhere but generally shallower water in the larger creeks and coves will be your best bet. During the winter, they are more likely to be found in deeper water areas.
We have seen recent cold fronts come through the area and those cold fronts can offer excellent fishing. Largemouth, hybrid/striped bass and crappie will go on feeding sprees just before a fall/winter cold front and then fishing will slow during the bluebird skies that follow.
Just as quickly as the shad and game fish have moved to shallow water areas with fall’s arrival, they will reverse course and move back to deeper locations with the arrival of winter. The movement of the game fish to deeper water will again correspond to the movement of the shad to deeper locations. At times during winter, the shad will move to relatively shallow water and the game fish will pursue the shad to feed after a few mild stable days but most often they will be located in deeper water areas. However, some big largemouth bass never leave shallow water.
I love to be on the water at any time and I really like the fall fishing season. However, the winter fishing season is my favorite time to be on the water. I have been waiting now for more than three years for a good winter fishing season. We need some really cold weather to make that happen. The water temperatures need to drop into the 40s and that is when the fish bunch up in deep water and are fun to catch.
The good fishing going on now will last right through the winter season. The weather is now cooler, the beauty of the fall colors is all over the lakes and best of all the fish are now biting better. It can’t get any better than that.
Good fishing and see you next week.
Outdoor columnist Bobby Peoples can be contacted via email at email@example.com.