Top Georgia Fishing Charters
Everything You Need to Know About Georgia Fishing
Fishing in the Peach State
Georgia is known for inventing Coca-Cola and being the country’s number one producer of pecans and peanut, but a lot of people don’t realize that it’s also an excellent state for fishing. An extensive river system feeds many lakes and reservoirs across the state creating excellent freshwater fishing opportunities. There’s also plenty of access to the Atlantic along 110 miles of coastline dotted with 15 barrier islands and is truly a world class saltwater fishing spot. With so much water and habitat there is a huge assortment of gamefish to choose from. From trout fishing in mountain streams to trolling the Gulf Stream offshore, there’s a mixed bag of fish waiting for you.
Fishing Georgia’s Coasts
Georgia Inshore Fishing
The inshore waters of Georgia’s coasts are an exceptional year round fishery. With 15 barrier islands, miles of marsh, and one of the largest ecological estuaries in the South, there is plenty of habitat for inshore fish like redfish, speckled trout, and more to thrive....Read More
Similar to Louisiana, these estuaries are created via the deltas that drain rich water into the sounds and the Atlantic Ocean. These tidally influenced river systems create thick black mud and marsh attracting game fish because of the abundant food sources and excellent spawning grounds. Oyster beds that stretch from the rivers past Interstate 95 all the way out to a few miles off the coast create even more natural structures that draw in fish. Essentially, there is prime habitat and it makes for top notch fishing.
Georgia Nearshore Fishing
Beginning in the 1970s, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources deployed different manmade materials into state waters to create artificial reefs. Today, along with help from the Coastal Conservation Association of Georgia and advice from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, coastal waters are now littered with these reefs. The reefs have since created excellent angling opportunities by making a firm foundation for reef fish communities that invite game fish like grouper, snapper, amberjack, and more.
Georgia Offshore Fishing
Georgia’s offshore waters allow for year round fishing from the artificial reefs into federal waters and the Gulf Stream. The continental shelf in Georgia waters is 80 miles from shore, and ends at the eastern boundary that is the Gulf Stream. Where these features meet there is excellent fishing thanks to the Gulf Stream delivering both warm and fertile waters from the tropics as well as trophy pelagic species. These fish are attracted to the bait fish that are held in the current rips, humps, and edges of the shelf that disrupt the Stream. These spots along the boundary of the shelf and stream are perfect for trolling where you can catch wahoo, mahi mahi, sailfish, and more.
Top Saltwater Catches in Georgia
Inshore Target Species in Georgia
Redfish can be caught year round in Georgia, but really light up during the fall. In Georgia, redfish spend their three life stages in different areas, allowing for different angling opportunities. Juveniles from the previous spawn can be caught along the shorelines of estuaries, creek mouths, oyster beds, and other shallow structures. Two to four year old subadults move into skinny water where they begin schooling, making prime opportunities for sight fishing. Full grown adults, and the big bulls, will move further offshore during the warmer months, but during the fall they’ll move inshore to feed post-spawn. They’ll be hungry and feeding around tidal rivers or crashing through the surf. No matter what challenge you’re looking for with redfish, Georgia’s got it.
Speckled trout can be caught off of Georgia’s coast year round, but the best months are in spring, from April until June. During this time speckled trout move from rivers and creeks towards the beaches and sounds. They are typically found around structure that holds baitfish like mullet and shrimp, such as oyster beds which are abundant in Georgia. The best time to head out is during low tide when trout gather in small channels that would otherwise be hidden by feet of water. Georgia’s marshes, creeks, and sounds are full of speckled trout waiting to be caught.
The flounder that can be caught in Georgia are southern flounder. They can be found in the sounds and estuaries Georgia has to offer year round, but are in their highest numbers April through November. They typically range from two to four pounds, but are often caught in the five to ten pound range. In fact, the world record flounder according to the IGFA was caught just a few miles south of the Georgia border, weighing in at 20 pounds, nine ounces. Flounder, being bottom dwellers who lie in wait on sandy bottoms for their prey, are a unique catch that Georgia has to offer.
The fertile water delivered by rivers and creeks create estuaries, miles of marshland, jetties, and other tructures like oyster beds off the barrier islands all of which are ideal environment for inshore species to thrive. Species like tarpon, tripletail, black drum, sheepshead, and more can all be caught in Georgia’s coastal waters.
Nearshore Target Species in Georgia
Amberjack are strong and powerful swimmers, known for being line and reel breakers, earning the nickname “reef donkeys.” Yellowtail amberjack identified by their forked yellow tail and torpedo shaped bodies. They do spend time maturing out in the open ocean, however as adults they return closer to shore and hunt near the reefs. Greater amberjack can also be found in the nearshore waters of Georgia when the water is cooler. Since they tend to form schools, once you find one, you’ll usually find a bunch. Georgia’s a great place to find these powerful fish amongst the abundant artificial reefs.
The great cobia migration goes through Georgia in the spring and is an event that many anglers in the state look forward to. Depending on the weather the migration may last only a couple of weeks but could last as long as a few months. They can be found around nearshore reefs and buoys, swimming around current rips, color changes, and bait balls, or even following manta rays on their migration. Cobia are naturally curious fish and often swim with sea turtles, sharks, and floating objects like kelp beds, trash, and your boat. Once the weather hits 68 degrees, get ready for the cobia run.
During summer in Georgia, it’s hard to find a reef that isn’t surrounded by barracuda. They are known for being fast and ravenous predators that are exciting to catch especially when found in large schools of up to several hundred. Most prefer light tackle, but barracuda can also be caught on the fly, and are great for sight fishing. When water temperatures heat up, the barracuda bite is on and it’s time to rig up and head out to the reefs.
The artificial reefs that the Georgia Department of Natural Resources has created within state waters have greatly improved the quality of fish habitat, which has brought more and more fish species back to thriving population levels. Species like black seabass, kingfish, spanish mackerel, and more enjoy the safety and food sources that these reef provide which in turn creates great prey opportunities for anglers.
Offshore Target Species in Georgia
Blackfin and yellowfin tuna can be found cruising through Georgia’s offshore waters, with the occasional rumors of bluefin slipping by. The best seasons to troll for tuna are in April through June and again in September through November, when they are passing through on their migration along the Gulfstream. With minimal fishing pressure in this area of the Atlantic, it is prime real estate to troll current rips, humps, and edges with the occasional trophy found bottom fishing near ledges. Depending on where you leave from, you’ll need to take at least a 10-16 hour trip, and it will be about two to four hours of travel time to reach the prime tuna feeding grounds. Strap in and get ready for a long action packed trip catching tuna over the edge.
An appropriately named fish, wahoo will have you yelling the second they send the line screaming. Reaching speeds up to 60 miles per hour paired with their excellent hunting abilities, they’re fierce predators that prey on squid, bullet mackerel, crustaceans, and basically anything they can sink their teeth into. Wahoo hang around Georgia nearly year round but the absolute best month according to local anglers is April. The best spot to find them is along the western side of the Gulfstream, cruising around eddies and blue water bands. When it’s warmer, they can also be found hunting the live bottom terraces of the inshore gulfstream. Throughout the year wahoo are biting and just need to run your line through Georgia’s offshore waters to catch one.
Blue marlin, white marlin, and sailfish can all be found cruising Georgia’s deep bluewater but are open for catch and release only. These three species make up the billfish available in the area, and are among the largest and most powerful sportfish in Georgia’s waters. The peak season for billfish begins in May and runs through September. Trolling current rips, humps, and edges of the western side of the Gulfstream, as well as bottom fishing ledges will produce trophy fish if you’re prepared for the fight. Catching billfish off the Gulfstream has grown in popularity in Georgia since the 1960s and continues to thrive today.
And more! (little tunny, dolphin, bonita)
Georgia’s offshore waters have year round fishing between the artificial reefs that extend into federal waters and the Gulfstream. The Gulfstream not only provides fertile warm waters from the tropics, but it's also the main highway that species like little tunny, dolphin fish/mahi mahi, and bonita use during their migrations.
Top Freshwater Catches in Georgia
Rainbow, brown, and brook trout are found in streams all over Georgia. Trout can be fished year round, but peak season runs from March to October. The long season gives anglers plenty of time to hit the creeks. The North Georgia Mountains have world class fly fishing within their creeks, streams, and even privately managed ponds, especially for trout due to the cool water temperatures. However, streams in Georgia tend to lack calcium levels needed for trout reproduction, so the Department of Natural Resources restocks the 4,000 miles of streams every year with one million trout to maintain the excellent angleling opportunities. Finding a shady spot along a cool stream in Georgia will lead you to some excellent trout on the fly.
Georgia is revered as the “Bass Capital of the World.” It is also home to the world record largemouth bass, pulled out of Montgomery Lake and weighing in at 22 pounds, four ounces. Many attribute the success of Georgia’s bass fishing to the fact that it seems like all of the state's lakes are connected via streams and rivers. Georgia has both the quantity and quality with ten bass species that big bass fans are on the hunt for. Largemouth, smallmouth, spotted, shoal, suwanee, chattahoochee, tallapoosa, altamaha, bartram’s, and redeye bass can all be found in lakes across the state. Catching five of the different black bass species in a calendar year is considered a “Georgia Bass Slam” by the DNR. Whether you’re new to fishing or an experienced bass angler, Georgia is a premier bass fishing location and one of the best places to take a trip.
Carp arn’t considered one of the most popular gamefish but the action they provide make them a fun catch and has greatly increased their popularity in recent years. Many lakes in Georgia hold a large population of carp creating several prime location to fish for them. In fact, due to their recent increase in popularity many lakes in Georgia are now stocked with carp for recreational and tournament angling opportunities. There are rumors of many different carp species like bighead and grass carp residing in Georgia’s lakes but the Department of Natural Resources only recognizes a population of common carp. Many anglers are confident that grass carp are in the state’s lakes, and have become a sought after but difficult fish to catch on the fly. Georgia is the perfect place to try your hand at carp fishing which continues to gain popularity.
Georgia is absolutely full of excellent lake and stream fishing. With 63 state parks, more than 100 wildlife management areas, and 11 public fishing areas specifically managed by the Department of Natural Resources for fishing, there are plenty of spots to try. More species like bowfin, bullhead, catfish, crappie, gar, perch, pike, and more make their home in Georgia’s freshwater bodies of water.
Best Places to Fish Georgia’s Saltwaters
Jekyll Island is a year round fishery, known for quality inshore fishing off St. Andrew’s Beach, Glory Beach, and Jekyll Island Pier thanks to the marshy habitat. Redfish, flounder, sharks, and more can be found along the beach all year with tripletail arriving in the summer and speckled trout in fall. In fact, the state waters in front of Jekyll island are known to be one of the best tripletail fisheries in the world. It is also one of largest breeding grounds in the world for sharks, regularly producing sharks well over 100 pounds just a few miles from shore. Heading into deeper waters, nearshore artificial reefs bloom with life and Jekyll Island’s blue water has a reputation for producing giants fish.
Nestled in between several river systems and on the edge of a major estuary system, Brunswick has excellent inshore fishing. With inshore marshes, backwaters, oyster beds, and brackish water areas, species like speckled trout, redfish, and flounder thrive. Speckled trout and redfish opportunities are especially good in the fall which is also the biggest season for shrimp movement and the arrival of thousands of rat-reds. Thanks to the brackish water, many baitfish hold up in Brunswick’s nearshore waters which draws in larger predatory species like sharks, tarpon, king mackerel, and more.
Another spot nestled amongst a river system, brackish estuary, and the Atlantic Ocean is Savannah which has great fishing year roun. Fall, when the marsh grasses turn from green to brown produces the best inshore fishing for redfish, speckled trout, and flounder. This is also when many fish move from deep water to the artificial reefs close to shore, making for short travel time, low fuel costs, and excellent fishing. Offshore, at the Gulfstream provides opportunities for large migratory pelagic species.
With marshes and estuaries inshore, artificial reefs nearshore, and the Gulfstream offshore, the the saltwater fishing in Georgia is hard to beat. More spots like Cumberland Island, St. Simon’s Island, Tybee Island, and more provide access to the Atlantic as well as backwaters.
Best Places to Fish Georgia’s Freshwaters
With over 100 miles of trout streams in Fannin County, Blue Ridge is considered the Trout Fishing and Fly Fishing Capital of Georgia. The Chattahoochee Forest National Fish Hatchery stocks Blue Ridge’s creeks with thousands of fish in March and July. The Toccoa River has the perfect oxygen levels and temperatures for trout to thrive. Great trout fishing can also be found in Rock, Cooper, and Noontootla Creeks where they’ll be hiding in eddy lines and rocks. Along the Toccoa River, the Blue Ridge reservoir takes up 3,290 acres and is managed by the Tennessee Valley Authority. A variety of species can be found in the lake including bluegill, largemouth, smallmouth, and white bass along with walley, trout, and perch.
Roswell sits along the Chattahoochee River, which is one of three rivers in the world with a self-sustaining trout population in close proximity to a major city. Cool waters from the depths of Lake Lanier at Buford Dam provide an ideal environment for rainbow and brown trout along with carp, largemouth bass, striped bass, and more. The extensive greenway park system connects the small towns along the Chattahoochee with the greater metro area that has vast riparian areas designed to protect Atlanta’s drinking water. The mild climate and late spawning season create excellent fishing opportunities for all anglers and also provide a home to other wildlife including white tail deer, osprey, beavers, and more.
Lake Hartwell is a 56,0000 acre reservoir that straddles the border between South Carolina and Georgia and is named after American Revolutionary War hero Nancy Hart. The Tugaloo and Seneca Rivers meet at the reservoir and form into the Savannah River. There’s a wide variety of fish habitat within the lake ranging from rocky bluffs towards the Tugaloo River arm, to shallow cove pockets and sandy flats on the lower ends of the lake. The lake supports some of the best bass fishing in the state and held the Bassmaster Classic back in 2008. The bass fishing is truly the treasure of the lake other species like catfish, crappie, bluegill, and more can also be caught. Striped bass are also stocked in the lake and anglers reported catching striper weighing over 60 pounds.
Georgia is full of prime lakes and streams that are ideal for a wide variety of fish species to thrive creating a productive and diverse fishery. With tons of state parks wildlife management areas, and public fishing areas there are plenty of places to wet a line. Locations like Clarks Hill Lake, Lake Oconee, Flint River, and more all provide excellent opportunities in one of the top states for freshwater fishing.
Best Season for Georgia Fishing
Georgia is truly a year round fishery both in the salt and fresh waters. No matter what, there will always be something to catch. However, if you are after a specific species, it is important to check out their peak season before you visit. This is especially true if you’re headed for something offshore, where most fish are migratory and therefore highly seasonal. A prime example of this would be cobia, who typically only cruise through Georgia’s waters from June to mid-September. The good news is that if you miss the peak season for your ideal fish, there’s always something else biting in the area.
Best Guided Trips in Georgia
Captain Experiences is here to help you find the perfect guide to make the most of your time in one of the World’s premier fishing locations. With our Damn Good Guides throughout the state of Georgia, we can help you find the perfect spot and type of trip for your next adventure. Select from our available locations to browse all trip options, or contact us for help finding the perfect guide.