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Bass still biting, despite the cold

POSTED: December 23, 2010 12:30 p.m.

Lake temperatures into the mid to upper 40s. The lake level is holding steady at around 1,068.9 feet, which is around two feet below the full pool of 1,071 feet. Lake Lanier is clear to stained on main lake and stained in the creeks and the rivers. Check generation schedules before heading out to the river at 770-945-1466.

Bass fishing has been very good for such a cold December, and anglers are catching some very large spotted and largemouth bass. Some of the fish have been caught very shallow while others are coming from water almost 50 feet deep. You may find bass at all stages of the water column this week. Make sure you are close to deep water. Steep banks offer bass an easy route between shallow and deep water, so winter bass tend to hang around bluff walls and deeper drop offs both on and off the banks and creek and river channels.

We caught six bass over five pounds last week on SPRO McSticks and McRips fishing midway on back into the creeks. When fishing around the steeper banks try and cast parallel to the drop off to keep your lure in the strike zone. I retrieve most jerk baits with a hard jerk followed by a long pause. With the new deeper diving McRip or other deep diving jerk baits, try a pull and pause or even a slow rolling retrieve. I think the shallower jerk baits need the hard jerks and long pauses because the bass are looking up and trying to figure if they can eat the bait before it gets away, whereas the deeper jerk baits are down closer to the bass and therefore don’t require as aggressive of a retrieve. Most of your strikes will occur on the pause. Keep your eye on your line because you can often see the line jump as a bass strikes your lure. Use 10-to-14 pound test fluorocarbon to get these best action and feel for your fishing.

One of the best lures for this time of year is the old reliable jig. The word jig covers a lot of different fishing lures but in this case we are talking about your standard 1/4-to-3/4-ounce jig with a pork or plastic trailer. These jigs are designed to mimic crayfish so you need to work them on the bottom with a slow retrieve. Cast your jigs along steeper banks with wood or docks and try to just drag it, keeping contact with the bottom. In warmer months, I will hop a jig, but in winter, a very slow retrieve seems to work best. A lot of the time a bass will hit a jig as it sits motionless on the bottom. I use two types of jigs in winter on Lake Lanier. My first choice is a 1/2 ounce Strike King Pro Model with a Big Bites Fighting Frog as a trailer and my second choice is a SPRO K-Finesse Jig with a Yamamoto Twin Curley tail. I like natural colors like greens or browns and I always dip the ends of the trailers in some red JJ’s Magic because the crawdads on Lake Lanier have an orange color on the ends of their pinchers.

Some other anglers are reporting catching good fish on Spoons, Fish Head Spins, Drop Shots and crank baits this past week.

The Stripers fishing is on and off and the anglers that are spending the most time on the water are the ones who will be the most consistent. The stripers will get into a few different patterns depending on what baitfish they are targeting and which area of the lake you are fishing. The stripers have been both shallow and deep and they seem to be shallower in the mornings and again in the evenings and deep during the day.

The good news is the cheapest fish finders in the world are birds. I have probably learned as much about a seagull’s actions than I have about the fish. Often a single gull can give away a huge school of fish. Gulls can’t keep secrets, so watch to see if the gulls are circling an area and giving out loud shrieks than you can almost bet there are fish close to the surface.

Trolling Umbrella rigs remains a very strong pattern. Set out a Captain Macs 4 arm umbrella rig and troll these midway on back into the creeks both up and down lake. Troll at around 2 miles an hour and speed up or slow down as needed. Watch your electronics and go back over areas where you caught fish or where you see them on you screen.

Both flat and down lined bait have been working well. Planner boards can help you to cover a wider area. They also enable anglers to get a bait up close to the banks, which can be key when the stripers are up shallow. I spoke with Bill Carson and he said the strikes from these shallow water line sides can be ferocious. You can drag trout, blue backs, gizzard and threadfin shad depending on what type of bait the stripers are eating. You can’t go wrong dragging a small trout around feeding stripers.

Not many reports are coming from crappie anglers, but I did talk with someone who is still catching them well. Down lining a Micro Spoon tipped with a live crappie minnow or the minnow by itself in brush at around 25 feet can work very well in winter. You can fish from the dock, boat or even from the deeper banks to score some of these tasty fish. The bridges have also been holding some decent schools of crappie.

Trout fishing is slow but the fish are still bitting. Live bait is hard to beat and, if local regulations allow, will out produce lures in the winter. Try live night crawlers on a weighted line in the deeper pools to catch some of these bigger hold over trout.

Cast a Rapala or a Yo Suri Pins minnow up stream and work it back with a jerk and pause retrieve. This can be a very effective method and it will trigger hard strikes from otherwise sluggish winter trout.

Most of Lake Lanier’s bank anglers continue to target striper in the winter, so I will try for the next few weeks to outline a few specific areas with details of the best spot on these spots. Try going to Mary Alice Park in Cumming or Holly Park in Gainesville. Use secure rod holders and fish either live or cut bait below a slip bobber or on a Carolina Rig.
If you are at the Mary Alice Park boat ramp and looking out towards the lake, then there are deep drop offs to the north of the boat ramp. Walk out towards the Baldridge Marina No Wake zone and fish from the points around that area. The water drops of deep and this will be a great place to catch a big striper.

If you fish around Gainesville, then try the area around Holly Park. You can see the water treatment plant to your left and this is a great area to cast your lines. The banks consist of clay and rip rap and there some nice tapered points that consistently hold stripers in the winter!

Eric Aldrich is an outdoor writer, marketing specialist and bass angler. Reports are based on personal experience and permission from a close network of friends. I would love to hear from our readers so please email me at esaldrich@yahoo.com or visit my website at aldrichfishing.com. Remember to take a kid fishing!



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