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Fish still eating, fishing still good

POSTED: December 19, 2008 5:00 a.m.

The lake is up slightly from last week at around 19.7-feet low at 1,051.3 feet (full pool is 1,071 feet).

Lake temperatures are around 50 degrees, and the main lake, creeks and the Chattahoochee River are slightly stained from the recent rains.

Check generation schedules before heading out to the river at 770-945-1466.

The shallow bite for bass has been off and on and has not been as good as in recent weeks.

Spotted bass are starting to group up in their deeper winter haunts and now is a great time to catch them.

Most people believe the myth that fish don’t eat when the water is less than 50 degrees, but I can assure that this is incorrect. I actually caught a bass last week in 49-degree water with a topwater plug!

Anglers will catch plenty of fish in the winter if they master deep fishing techniques. I spend a large portion of my early winter days cruising around and watching my Humminbird Electronics to unlock the secrets of these deeper fish.

This may seem tedious to some, but it pays off by providing many locations to explore on future trips.

Often you can find big schools of bass in the same locations where stripers, gulls and loons are feeding. All of these creatures are after the same foodBaitfish.

Spotted bass will hang around near the bottom and wait for wounded shad and blueback herring to flutter to the bottom. This provides bass with an easy meal without them having to expend too much energy.

Working a jigging spoon will closely match these wounded baitfish, and it’s a great way to catch plenty of bass while other anglers are struggling just to get a bite.

Most of the schools of bass right now are located from 20- to 45-feet deep.

These schools can be packed into an area the size of a pickup truck bed, and if you move off of them then you may not catch anything.

The good news is that if you stay over them, you can catch one after another. I use a ƒ-ounce Flex It Spoon and work these on 14-to 20-pound test-heavy monofilament.

The heavier line will make your lure drop slower because of the water resistance, and it will also allow you to retrieve you jigging spoon when it gets hung on the bottom.

Snap your lure and hop it off the bottom. As your spoon falls, try to keep the line tight and pay attention for any "tick" or line movement.

Ninety percent of your strikes will occur on the fall.

Other lures will work well for this vertical presentation.

Try a Drop Shot Rig, Fish Head Spin, Jig N’ Pig or even a SPRO Bucktail and use the same lift and fall as you would with the Jigging spoon.

If you don’t own electronics or are fishing from the bank you can still do well in winter. Find the deeper banks, especially if there are feeding birds and or fish in the area.

Cast a Rooster Tail or Fish Head Spin out into the deeper water, let it hit bottom, then reel it slow and steady. A live minnow fished below a slip bobber set at 15-to 20-feet down will also work well!

Striper fishing remains consistently good.

I can’t stress enough how important finding feeding fish is to an anglers success.

Watching the gulls and your Humminbird Electronics are by far the best ways to eliminate unproductive water.

The old saying that 90 percent of the fish are located in 10 percent of the water is very true.

If you will dedicate an hour or more to locating feeding gulls and stripers, you will be much more successful than if you just go to an area where you caught them last week hoping they will still be there.

The stripers are constantly moving and that’s why guides who fish everyday have the advantage.

You may locate a large school of stripers in Baldridge one day only to return the next to find that they are nowhere to be seen.

I have also worked a large school of fish that was located in the back of a cove only to round the corner and see another angler not catching any just out of sight of the action.

Fishing blind will produce an occasional catch but if you want to load the boat you will need to put in the effort to find the aggressive schools.

Many methods are working once you locate stripers.

Live bait is almost always the most productive, and the stripers seem to be preferring the small to medium-sized trout this past week.

Hammond’s has trout, minnows, bluebacks and even gizzard shad so make sure to stop by and ask them which bait is working best on that particular day.

Trolling umbrella Rigs and casting SPRO Bucktails, Fish Head Spins, Sebile and Spro Swim baits are all great methods to use once you locate these hard fighting game fish.

We have also caught stripers on jigging spoons while fishing for bass, so keep your options open.

Crappie fishing is still slow. Target bridge pilings and marina docks at 20 feet or more.

Because of winter, live crappie minnows are best, but you can also trigger reaction strikes from these tasty pan fish by jigging small Micro Spoons up and down below the docks for these suspended crappie.

Use light line and pay close attention for any line movement, as the bite will be light!

Trout fishing on the Chattahoochee River is fair.

I have seen anglers almost every day down by the dam that are catching a few trout off the bottom with live earth worms and Berkley Power Nuggets.

Fly Fishing with a drop rig is fair.

A drop rig is basically two dry fly fish tied on the same tippet.

Tie a small wet fly on the bottom with another nymph just a foot above, and target the rapids just above the deeper pools.

Eric Aldrich is a part time outdoor writer, bass fisherman and is sponsored by Humminbird, SPRO, Gamakatsu, Tru Tungsten and Hammonds Fishing and Boat Storage. Reports are based on personal experience and permission from a close network of friends. He would love to hear from his readers so please email him at esaldrich@yahoo.com or visit his Web site at aldricih
fishing.com. Remember to take a kid fishing!



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