The state of Georgia deserves its excellent fishing reputation. It may not be as well-known as its neighbor Florida, but that actually works in your favor. Georgia is one of the last states on the east coast where you can fish in relative solitude. Boat traffic here is minimal and on most days, you’ll feel like you have the waters all to yourself.
What’s more, fishing in Georgia is varied. It’s well-known for its excellent freshwater action and also boasts over 100 miles of Atlantic coastline. Factor in the incredible freshwater and saltwater swamps and the list of fish you can catch becomes too long for one short blog. What we can tell you for sure, though, is that you’ll get a warm welcome both on and off the water.
In this angler’s guide, we’ll highlight the top fish species to target in Georgia, how to hook them, and where to find them. Once you’re finished reading, you’ll be one step closer to planning your next fishing trip in the “Peach State.”
Georgia Fish Species
Georgia is home to some reputed freshwater fisheries, and some vastly underestimated saltwater ones. Both, however, contain pretty spectacular fish. Below, we highlight the top catches you can make in this state’s diverse waterways.
Georgia stocks more than one million Trout in over 4,000 miles of freshwater streams every year. This draws in thousands of anglers hoping to leave with their very own trophy, and most do! From March through to the end of October, you could be battling it out with Brown, Rainbow, or Brook Trout.
Both fly anglers and spinning enthusiasts can go after these fish using a variety of bait and lures. Trout worms are a great choice if you’re using live bait, and plastic baits mimicking bait fish are a secure choice for artificials. Keep in mind that many productive Trout streams in Georgia are located on private property. These are no-go zones unless you have permission from the owners. If you’re heading out on your own, make sure to keep this in mind.
All Kinds of Bass
There are numerous species of Bass you can hook in Georgia, including six members of the Black Bass family. Largemouth, Smallmouth, Spotted, Redeye, Suwannee, and Shoal Bass all call the state’s warmwater and coldwater fisheries home. And it’s not just Black Bass in Georgia’s waters, either. Striped and Spotted Bass are on the menu, too.
Georgia’s warmer climate means the fish get big. The state is tied with Japan for the biggest Largemouth Bass ever caught on record! Where you’ll fish will depend on the type of Bass you’re after. The most important thing to take into account is water temperature. Largemouth Bass like warmer freshwaters, whereas Smallies require a colder current. Spotted Bass fall somewhere in between, and Stripers split their time between saltwater and freshwater.
If you’re starting to think that every freshwater game fish calls Georgia’s waters home, you’re about right! That’s especially true now that we’re adding Walleye to the list. These coldwater fish are native to a few rivers that run through the state and are also stocked in several lakes to support the population.
Walleye fishing in Georgia wasn’t always as popular as it is today, though. It took some time for southern anglers to warm up to these typically north-bound fish. Ultimately, their fight and great taste won everyone over. You can fish for Walleye year-round, but early spring is considered peak season.
Based on the information above, it’s easy to understand why Georgia’s saltwater fishery can get overlooked. That doesn’t mean they should, though. The state boasts 100 miles of Atlantic coastline and countless marshes that house plenty of saltwater favorites. The most notable is Redfish, which also happens to be one of Georgia’s three state fish.
These creatures are at the top of anglers’ lists for a number of reasons. They boast great food qualities and provide an excellent fight, pound for pound. Redfish are around all year, but fall is the best time to hook ’em. This is when they’re at their hungriest and they move into shallower waters to feed. Expect to hook fish in the double digits in both size and quantity.
One of the best things Georgia has going for it is its location. The climate is suitable for fish typically found more north, like Walleye and Stripers, as well as for species found in the Gulf. This includes the legendary Red Snapper! Of all the fish mentioned thus far, you’ll need to travel the furthest distance to get your hands on these delicacies.
Red Snapper prefer waters are that are deep and contain underwater structure, like reefs and wrecks. In Georgia, these areas are 20–60 miles offshore, but the trip is more than worth it. While you’re fishing for Red Snapper, you could also reel in Black Seabass, Kingfish, Amberjack, and Cobia. The season for Red Snapper is short and bag limits are usually strict, so make sure you’re staying up to date with annual regulations.
Yes, there’s more! Freshwater anglers can also look forward to excellent Crappie fishing in Georgia, as well as Muskie, Catfish, and a variety of Panfish. Alongside Redfish, you’ll also find Spotted Seatrout, Flounder, Tarpon, Sheepshead, and Sharks in saltwater. Head further into the Atlantic and you can even go deep sea fishing for Mahi Mahi, Wahoo, Tuna, and Marlin.
How can I go fishing in Georgia?
Now that you know what to catch, the next step is deciding how to do so. This will primarily depend on the fish you want to target, but factors like time and budget also play a part. Below, we take a look at some of the most popular ways to fish in Georgia.
Charter Boat Fishing
Charter boat fishing is one of the best ways to get the most out of your time on the water. If you’re freshwater fishing for Trout, being aboard a boat will allow you to explore different sections of the river and try out more techniques. The same applies to inshore saltwater fishing. If you’d like to explore the offshore reefs and wrecks or the productive Gulf Stream, a charter boat is even more essential.
You could be traveling up to 60 miles out into the Atlantic, depending on the fish you want to target. These trips are pricier, but they also give you access to more exclusive fish. Best of all, you’ll have a knowledgeable local captain with you. This is arguably the most valuable asset – especially if you’re new to the area. Not only will they take you to the best spots, but they’ll also make sure you’re fishing within the law.
Remember those 4,000 miles of streams we mentioned earlier? Many are shallow and remote – meaning they can only be accessed on foot. You may have to hike through a forest, but the experience of fishing a secluded stretch of water is more than worth it. Just make sure you bring all the fishing gear and supplies you need, as you’ll likely be on your own out there.
It’s not all remote fishing spots, though. There are plenty of locations along the river banks and marshes that are easily accessible. These make for a great budget-friendly family vacation, that ends with a delicious seafood supper. Fishing on your own comes with extra responsibilities, however. You’ll need to make sure you have the right fishing licenses and that you’re respecting all the rules.
If you’re wanting to access deeper Atlantic waters but don’t have a boat, pier fishing is just the thing for you. Georgia’s 15 barrier islands are a particularly good spot for pier anglers to explore. Head to the Jekyll Island Fishing Pier and you could hook Flounder, Sheepshead, and Whiting. It’s also a great spot to do some crabbing!
The piers at Jekyll Island are public, as are several more on Tybee Island. This means that all you’ll need to bring are your fishing licenses and gear. The islands are popular vacation spots, so you can count on public restrooms and picnic areas being nearby. For your best shot at a catch, cast your lines during high tide.
Best Places to Go Fishing in Georgia
There are countless fishing adventures to have in Georgia. In most cases, the key to success is picking the right spot. The state is covered in waterways and what you’ll see below is just a snapshot of what’s on offer. It should help you get started, though, so let’s dive in.
- Savannah: You can count on a warm welcome in this city perched on Georgia’s Atlantic coastline. The Savannah Artificial Reef System is a bottom fishing haven. Even further out, you can hook various Billfish. Choose to stay inshore for ample Redfish, Trout, and Flounder opportunities.
- Blue Ridge: It’s known for the best Trout fishing in Georgia, and how could it not be? It’s home to the Toccoa River, Rock Creek, Cooper Creek, and Noontootla Creek. These waters are well-stocked and easily accessible, making them a favorite for fly and spinning anglers alike.
- Okefenokee Swamp: It’s one of the largest freshwater ecosystems, spanning over 400,000 acres. It’s also home to 39 different species of fish including Largemouth Bass, Crappie, Bluegill, and various Panfish.
- Jekyll Island: In the fall, these waters are some of the best for hooking Bull Redfish. It’s also a popular and well-equipped vacation spot. Throughout the year you can also target Spotted Seatrout, Tarpon, Flounder inshore, or head out into deeper waters for Red Snapper, Kingfish, and Sharks.
- Lake Seminole: Fed by the Flint and Chattahoochee Rivers, Lake Seminole is a great spot to hook big Largemouth Bass. It’s also stocked annually with Striped and Hybrid Striped Bass.
- Lake Lanier: Not only is it considered one of the best Spotted Bass fisheries east of Mississippi, but it also houses Walleye, Trout, Sunfish, and Catfish. Its proximity to Atlanta makes it a great choice for anglers with only a little time to spare.
Anything else I need to know?
Before you prepare for any fishing trip, it’s important to familiarize yourself with local rules and regulations. First on the list is getting a fishing license for anyone over the age of 16. If you plan to fish for Trout or along the Atlantic coastline, you’ll need to purchase special permits on top of that.
You can find answers to questions like “how much does a Georgia fishing license cost?” and much more in our detailed guide. Lastly, you’ll need to factor in things like open seasons and bag limits. These are subject to change on an annual basis so it’s always a good idea to consult the Georgia Department of Natural Resources website.
Fishing in Georgia: Sweeter Than Peaches
With countless Trout streams, Walleye and Bass stocked lakes, as well as 100 miles of Atlantic coastline, fishing in Georgia is pretty sweet. Combined with the hospitality this state is known for, you’re bound to have an excellent time – both on and off the water.
Any great memories of Georgia fishing trips to share? What’s your favorite spot to drop a line? Let us know in the comments below!