A new year is fast approaching and there are plenty of sporting adventures for every month of the year. What follows are my top suggestions for keeping your outdoor calendar full of cool things to do throughout the year. Of course, some of these can be done at different times of the year but what I’m giving you is a schedule that will help you get to all of them at the peak times. Some also require advance planning and there’s no time like the present to pencil in the dates and make sure your arrangements are in place. If you decide to go on some of these jaunts and are not sure where to start, just e-mail me and I’ll try to help get you going.
At some point during this typically cold month you need to experience striper fishing on Lake Hartwell. If you have never been it would be wise to hire a guide or go with a friend who has firsthand knowledge of where to go and what to look for. Braving the cold mornings can be daunting but the payoff is well worth it. On a good day you should catch stripers over 10 pounds and may well land fish that tip the scales at 20 pounds or more.
Go quail hunting at one of the many preserves scattered around Georgia. Although most of these plantations use pen-raised birds, the experience of walking the woods and watching the dogs is worth the trip. The point of the dogs and the anticipation of quail on the rise is one of the most spine-tingling feelings you can enjoy in the field. South Georgia has an abundance of these preserves and there are a bunch of them in the Albany area.
Head to Lake Oconee and go crappie fishing. Of course, the exact timing will be determined by water temperature and clarity but usually by late March the fish will be headed to the coves and shallow cover where they can be taken with relative ease. Again, a guided trip would be worth the money to at least help you with where to go and what kind of strategies to use. After you’ve done it once you can go it alone.
Head to North Georgia and go trout fishing in either the Nantahala or Toccoa Rivers. Take along a pair of waders because the water will still be a bit frosty for your old tennis shoes. There’s nothing like hitting the streams on opening day of trout season and these two rivers offer good fishing. There are plenty of others to choose from so if you have some good information and want to head somewhere else just go for it.
This is a good month to go bass fishing at Paradise Public Fishing Area outside Tifton or Charlie Elliot Public Fishing Area outside Mansfield. Both have a large selection of large and small ponds, and nearly all of them are good producers of largemouth bass. As an alternative plan, take a group of kids fishing for bluegills and shellcrackers in your favorite pond. Two or three days before and after the full moon should find these dandy little battlers on their beds and the kids will have a great time.
Hike a portion of the Appalachian Trail. There are lots of options depending on how far and how strenuous you want your hike to be. You should still be able to catch decent temperatures especially at the higher altitudes. The exercise, time spent with friends and scenery make this a must for your calendar. An alternate month might be November when the leaves are changing.
Take a float trip down the Satilla River in South Georgia in search of red bellies. The Satilla has some of the prettiest scenery you will find anywhere and the sugar-white sandbars you will see along the way are a big part of this excursion. I’m suggesting this month because the river should be well past the high flows of spring but be warned, the bugs will be terrible. Take plenty of insect repellent.
Too hot — go swimming.
Wangle an invitation to a dove shoot. These grey rockets are one of the most challenging targets for those who enjoy wing shooting. Once you have done this you will be looking for a place to put your own field. Our family has been doing this for 25 years or more and it never gets old. Bring along some grilled meats to eat for lunch before the season opens and enjoy the day.
Go camping at Richard B. Russell State Park near Elberton or Veterans State Park near Cordele. Both have lots of water front campsites, and Lakes Russell and Blackshear offer plenty of good fishing and water sport opportunities. As a bonus both have first-rate golf courses right on the premises. October is a good month for all of these things.
Go deer hunting on one of the Georgia WMA’s in the Piedmont region. Year in and out, the Piedmont area of our state offers the best hunting in terms of quality and quantity. November is usually the month when the bucks are in rut and your chances to bring home a trophy go way up. If deer hunting’s not your thing find a private land owner who has a large swamp and go after wood ducks. If you decide to do this make sure you have practiced up with your shotgun. You won’t believe how fast they are.
Head to the Georgia coast and try on the red drum bite. From Savannah to St. Mary’s, our coast is a veritable hot spot for these prized game fish. There are all kinds of guided trips available and that’s what I would recommend. Once you catch a few of these bruisers you will be making plans to go every year. There is no better fish to eat than the old spot tail.
Articles and columns by Alvin Richardson about hunting, fishing and other outdoor sports appear weekly in the Statesboro Herald. Richardson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.