Once water temperatures hit 50 degrees at Lakes Hartwell and Burton, the annual walleye pilgrimage from within these reservoirs to their headwaters begins, according to biologists with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife Resources Division (WRD). Mid-to-late March typically is the prime time to target this species.
"For the past five years, WRD has stocked walleye in these waters and anglers now can enjoy the fruits of those labors," says WRD Fisheries Biologist Anthony Rabern. "Hopefully, the last two weeks of March will provide the best conditions of the year for catching this particular species."
Walleye have a golden brown colored body with a white belly. They have large, glassy marble-like eyes and long, sharp teeth. The current state record, caught on Richard B. Russell Lake in 1995, weighed 11 lbs. 6 oz., but typical weights are 2-4 lbs.
During daylight hours walleye retreat to deep water downstream of the rocky, shallow areas where they will spawn, so WRD personnel recommends trolling Shad Raps or live nightcrawlers near the bottom. In the evenings this species moves upstream, so change to floating Rapalas or curly-tailed grubs to be most effective.
For anglers who happen to miss the spawning run of walleye, there is still good fishing to be found in April. At this time of year, anglers should try trolling Shad Raps and nightcrawlers in 10-feet of water in the upper reaches of lakes Rabun, Seed, Tugalo, Yonah and even Hartwell.
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