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Lake Lanier fishing report: Feb. 18

Fishing warms up with the weather

POSTED: February 17, 2011 7:33 p.m.

Lake temperatures have risen slightly in to the mid 40s. The lake level remains steady at 1070.3, which is less than a foot below the full pool of 1071. 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.
The bass fishing has been slow, but this great weather we are having has already started to trigger these fish into moving shallower.

Fish are cold-blooded creatures. When water temperatures are in the lower 40s bass almost shut down most of the day and only move during short feeding periods. They may sit on the bottom most of the day and just suspend.

They will only move a short distance to feed and this makes the fishing much slower. When the water temperatures approach the upper 40s, then bass start to follow the river and creek channels up into the shallower flats where they will feed and eventually spawn when the water temperatures approach 60.

We are at the beginning of this seasonal movement and this can be a feast or famine for anglers. Think of the river channels, creek channels and ditches as bass highways. Bass use these depressions as paths from deep to shallow water and then back deep again after the spawn. When you understand this concept, it will help you to target areas that have the most potential.

The bass have moved up a little shallower as of this week and we have caught them in as little as 10 feet deep with crank baits and as deep as 50 feet on a jigging spoon.

The majority of fish are still deep, but start looking at the late winter and early spring areas. The bass are still striking slower-moving baits like jigging spoons or finesse plastics on a drop-shot rig, but they have also started to go after crank baits and jerk baits.

Cast your lures around areas in the pockets and creeks that are close to the channels.

Pay close attention to where you get your bites, as the fish may be schooled in large groups in late winter. If an area produces a nice keeper then slow down and work over the same or similar areas.

Live bait will increase your odds of catching bass this week. Many anglers are against live bait fishing for bass because they think the fish will get gut hooked. If you use circle hooks they will almost always hook the fish in the mouths and make for an easy release.

Shad and medium shiners fished on a down line will work well right now for both bass and stripers.

Striper fishing is hit-and-miss, but this warmer weather will help fishing.

Stripers are the most active predator fish on Lake Lanier in the winter. These stocked fish are used to cold water, so when the lake temperatures are down the stripers thrive.

There is a lot of bait available for the stripers right now. We are still experiencing a shad die-off, so many of
Lake Lanier’s stripers are hanging around 35 feet deep waiting for an easy meal to drop down from the surface.

The umbrella rig and live medium minnows on down or flat lines continue to be great choices. Stripers are also starting to strike jerk baits in shallow water. Cast a McStick or Bomber Long A toward the bank and reel it slow and steady back to the boat.

I really enjoy seeing kids who don’t have confidence in these lures get a strike. They may cast these lures most of the day without success and then suddenly hook a fish.

These strikes often occur because young people are losing interest in the lure and they start to slow down their retrieve simply because they are getting bored.

Then a huge Lake Lanier striper will explode on the lure. Their eyes light up and the fight is on! These memories last a lifetime and are the basis for why we like to fish.

In addition to live bait and jerk baits, the stripers will hit buck tails and smaller swim baits. Work these lures with a slow and steady retrieve around the same areas where you mark fish on your finder.

Also look for groups of gulls diving on bait.

Crappie fishing is good and the fish are starting to show up in large schools in the creeks and main lake pockets.

The two key factors to a successful crappie outing are finding the bait schools and also looking for warmer water.

These two situations often coincide with each other and create the perfect storm for crappie catching.

Look for brush and docks in less than 20 foot of water and pay close attention to your electronics to stay on the fish. If you don’t get a bite within 15 minutes then it is time to move on to the next dock.

Trout: March 26 is opening day of trout season, so you can bet the Department of Natural Resources is stocking plenty of trout.

These are ignorant fish that have never seen a hook. These newly released trout will strike lures without caution because they have never had to fear anglers in the hatchery. This can make for some very successful fishing.

Use live earthworms (where permitted by law) or cast Rooter Tails and small jerk baits around the rapids and in the slower pools just below the rapids.

Bank fishing: Many anglers are out beating the banks and the crappie are starting to bite shallow.

Use live crappie minnows or small jigs and Micro Spoons around bridge pilings, docks and trees or brush lying in the water. As mentioned before, if you don’t get a bite within 15 minutes either adjust the depth of your live bait or move on to the next spot. Once you locate one fish you can almost bet there will be many more in that same area because crappie run in schools.

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 e-mail me at esaldrich@yahoo.com or visit my website at aldrichfishing.com. Remember to take a kid fishing!



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