Category Archives: Recreation

New State Record Blue Catfish Beats Previous by More Than 12 Pounds

WAYCROSS, Ga. (Oct. 17, 2017) – A day of fishing is good. A day you catch a new state record – and beat the old one by more than 12 pounds – is great! Richard Barrett is the new state record holder for the blue catfish. His catch, weighing 93 lb, 0 oz, beat the previous 2010 record of 80 lb, 4 oz., according to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division (WRD).

Richard Barrett is the new state record holder for the blue catfish.

Barrett, of Axson, hooked this new state record blue catfish on the Altamaha River on October 14, 2017 using a live channel catfish they caught earlier in the day as bait.  The fish was caught on the edge of a deep hole, and the angler told WRD staff that he was shocked when he got it to surface and thought there was no way he was going to get the fish in boat! WRD fisheries biologist Tim Bonvechio aged the fish at 14 years old, which indicates a good growth rate.

“It is always good news when I hear about someone catching a new state record fish in Georgia as it continues to show me how many great fishing opportunities are out there,” says John Biagi, Chief of Fisheries for the Wildlife Resources Division.  ”This is our first state record of 2017, and I hope it ignites a fire in all new and experienced anglers to get outdoors and go fish Georgia!”

Blue catfish (Ictalurus furcatus) typically are bluish-gray above, fading to white on the sides and belly, and do not have spots. They have a deeply forked tail, an overhanging upper jaw, pale chin whiskers, and an anal fin with a long straight margin. They are most similar to channel catfish, which often have spots, have dark chin whiskers, and a curved margin on the anal fin. They are native to the Coosa River basin; and introduced in the Chattahoochee, Flint, Ocmulgee, Oconee, Altamaha, Satilla, and Savannah River basins.

Anglers looking to fish on the Altamaha River can find helpful information on the WRD website at http://georgiawildlife.com/fishing-prospects.

Anglers must possess a current Georgia fishing license to fish in public waters.  Where can you get a license? Buy it online, find a list of retail license vendors at http://georgiawildlife.com/licenses-permits-passes or buy it by phone at 1-800-366-2661.

By purchasing a license as well as fishing equipment and related items, you and your fellow anglers help fund sport fish restoration programs, thanks to the Sport Fish Restoration Act.  This Act allows funds accumulated from a federal excise tax on fishing equipment and related items to be directed to activities that benefit recreational anglers.  A portion of these funds is provided to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources based on several factors, including the number of paid sporting licenses.  Sport Fish funds make the following activities possible: managing sport fish populations, raising freshwater fish in hatcheries and stocking them in public waters, maintaining and operating public fishing areas and building boat ramps, and much more!

Information about state-record fish, including an application and rules, can be found at http://georgiawildlife.com/fishing/recordprogram/rules or in the current Sport Fishing Regulations Guidebook.

GEORGIA HUNTERS: Primitive Weapons Deer Hunting Season Opens Saturday, October 14

knoThe week-long primitive weapons deer hunting season opens Saturday, Oct. 14. Last year, almost 42,000 hunters took to the woods with muzzleloaders, bringing in almost 6,000 deer, according to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division (WRD).

“The primitive weapons season is a great opportunity to get out and enjoy the woods before the busy firearms season starts,” said Charlie Killmaster, state deer biologist with WRD Game Management. “All deer hunters do need to remember that they are required to report their harvest through Georgia Game Check. Deer can be checked on the Outdoors GA app (which now works even without cell service), at gooutdoorsgeorgia.com, or by calling 1-800-366-2661.”

During the primitive weapons season, hunters may use archery equipment, muzzleloading shotguns (20 gauge and larger) and muzzleloading firearms (.44 caliber or larger). Youth under 16 years of age may hunt deer with any legal deer firearm, including during any wildlife management area primitive weapons hunts.

Either Sex Day Map: Hunters can check out the interactive map created to see the opportunities available for the counties they hunt. More info at http://georgiawildlife.com/hunting/deer-opportunities.

More than one million acres of public hunting land is available to hunters in Georgia, including more than 100 state-operated wildlife management areas.  Many areas offer special hunts throughout the season, including primitive weapons hunts. Dates and locations for hunts are available in the 2017-2018 Georgia Hunting Seasons and Regulations guide (http://georgiawildlife.com/hunting/regulations).

The season bag limit is 10 antlerless deer and two antlered deer (one of the antlered deer must have at least four points, one inch or longer, on one side of the antlers). Special regulations apply to archery-only counties and extended archery season areas.

All deer hunters, including archers, are required to wear a minimum of 500 square inches of daylight fluorescent orange above the waist during primitive weapons season. Scopes and other optical sighting devices are legal for muzzleloading firearms and archery equipment.

Following are recommendations to ensure a safe experience:

  • Never smoke in the proximity of a muzzleloader.
  • Use an intermediate device, such as a measure, to pour powder into a barrel.
  • Keep flask and powder containers away from flames and sparks to prevent an accidental explosion.
  • Use only powders specific to each muzzleloader and recommended by that firearms manufacturer.
  • Place percussion cap on nipple only when ready to shoot.
  • The gun is safely unloaded only after removing the bullet, powder and percussion cap. If using a flintlock muzzleloader, remove the bullet and powder, and un-prime the flash pan.
  • Use the recommended loading materials, the correct powder charge, the right diameter and weight bullet and the correct lead material.
  • Treat a misfire as though the gun could fire at any moment.
  • Make sure the gun is unloaded before attempting to clean it.
  • Make sure the projectile is firmly seated on the powder before capping and firing.
  • Never blow down the barrel of a muzzleloader to clear or extinguish sparks.
  • Keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction.
  • Read the owner’s manual and be familiar with its operation before using a muzzle-loading firearm.
  • Handle every gun as if it was loaded.
  • Do not use alcohol or drugs while handling a firearm.

To pursue deer in Georgia, hunters must have a valid hunting license, a big game license and a current deer harvest record. Licenses can be purchased online at http://georgiawildlife.com/licenses-permits-passes,  by phone at 1-800-366-2661 or at a license agent (list of agents available online).

For more information on deer hunting seasons, regulations, licenses and WMA maps, visit http://georgiawildlife.com/hunting/regulations.

Deer Season Opens September 9th

Hunters utilizing archery equipment will get the first opportunity at bringing home a deer beginning Saturday, Sept. 9, according to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division.

GEORGIA’S ARCHERY DEER HUNTING SEASON OPENS SATURDAY, SEPT. 9

Last year, 139,043 archery hunters harvested just over 50,000 deer. Statewide, hunters can use archery equipment throughout the entire 2017-2018 deer season.

“Archery season is an excellent time to get an early start on putting some venison in the freezer,” said state deer biologist Charlie Killmaster.  “Although it’s still warm this time of year, it’s the easiest part of the season to pattern deer.  Just don’t forget to report your kill to Georgia Game Check!”

Georgia hunters can check out an interactive map that allows them to see the best opportunities available for the counties they hunt at http://georgiawildlife.com/rut-map.

All hunters must report their deer harvest through Georgia Game Check, including hunters under 16 years of age, landowners, honorary, lifetime, and sportsman license holders. Hunters will need to obtain a free deer harvest record each season.  Before moving a harvested deer, hunters are required to immediately enter the date and county on the harvest record, and within 72 hours, must complete the reporting process through Georgia Game Check (https://gooutdoorsgeorgia.com) OR hunters can go “paperless” and report through the free Go Outdoors GA app (you can report through the app even with no connection. Once your phone gets a signal, it will automatically sync your information).

State-managed public hunting lands are funded through a combination of state license fees and matching federal funds from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s Wildlife Restoration Program.  Hunters account for $977 million in retail sales in Georgia each year with a $1.6 billion ripple effect and almost 24,000 jobs.

Many public lands offer specialty deer hunts, including primitive weapons hunts, adult/child hunts and ladies-only hunts. Dates and locations for these hunts are listed in the 2017-2018 Georgia Hunting Seasons and Regulations guide. Georgia offers more than 100 state-operated wildlife management areas (WMAs) for the public’s use.

Hunters are allowed a season bag limit of 10 antlerless deer and two antlered deer (one of the two antlered deer must have a minimum of four points, one inch or longer, on one side of the antlers).  Special regulations apply to archery-only counties and extended archery season areas.  Counties in the Metro Atlanta area (Clayton, Cobb, DeKalb, Forsyth, Fulton, Gwinnett, and Rockdale counties) offer either-sex archery deer hunting through Jan. 31.  Additionally, deer of either sex may be taken with archery equipment at any time during the deer season on private land.

To pursue deer in Georgia, hunters must have a valid hunting license and a big game license. Licenses can be purchased online at http://georgiawildlife.com/licenses-permits-passes, by phone at 1-800-366-2661 or at a license agent (list of agents available online).

For more information on deer hunting seasons, regulations, licenses and WMA maps, visit http://georgiawildlife.com/hunting/regulations.