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Lake Lanier Fishing Report: Big fish bite as water level improves

POSTED: January 26, 2012 7:20 p.m.

Water temperatures have held steady, remaining warmer than normal for this time of year at around 50 degrees.

The lake level has risen nicely as the rains added another foot plus of water this past week.

Lake Lanier is at 1062.1 which is 8.9 feet below a full pool of 1071. Lake Lanier is clear on main lake and stained in the creeks.

The Chattahoochee River below Buford Dam is clear. Check generation schedules before heading out to the river at 770-945-1466.

Bass fishing remains good and there are some very large stringers being caught right now.

At this same time last year, water temperatures were in the lower 40s and we were experiencing a shad die-off and tough fishing conditions.

Turn the clock forward, and the prey and predator fish are active and very healthy. These factors make for winter fishing at its best on our local waters.

No single pattern seems to dominate as bass anglers are catching fish on a variety of lures, techniques and depths.

Usually this time of year we fish 40-to-50 feet deep with spoons, jigs and drop-shots, and the bites are tough.

This year shallow, mid-depth and deep-water anglers are doing well.

Fishing reports from my other friends all seem to be positive.

I have heard of some big largemouth bass being caught up lake and also down lake in the creeks, and we have picked up a few while targeting spotted bass in the creek ditches.

Most of the bass we are catching are spotted bass that are very fat and healthy-looking.

I have been starting my day by working moving lures like deep-diving crankbait or jerkbait.

I fish these lures from shallow or deep because the bites can come from just about any level in the water column right now.

Cast a Little John DD deep diver, crank it into the bottom and make the lure dig throughout the cast.

This method has accounted for some nice bass in the mornings and even throughout the day.

Our best lure for big spotted bass continues to be a McStick 110 in Blue Bandit or Clear Chartreuse.

Cast these jerkbaits against the shore and work them parallel to steeper banks, points and humps in the creek mouths.

This same pattern is working up above Gainesville Marina as well as down lake.

Our dock bite usually doesn't really get going until the middle of February, but the bass are holding around docks pretty well right now.

On sunny days, we have seen some big spots positioned next to the black dock floats to warm themselves.

Some of these docks are holding entire schools of fish. Use a Big Bites Finesse Worm or Cane Stick on a 1/8-ounce finesse jig head and skip these offerings under the docks.

The lighter jig head will cause these worms to fall slowly, and most of our bites are coming on the fall or on the first twitch of the lure after it hits bottom.

Always add some kind of scent to your lures.

Stripers: As with the bass, striper fishing has been good and they are also biting on a variety of baits at different depths.

The birds continue to give away the best areas, and we have caught quite a few around diving gulls while fishing for bass.

We found some large schools of stripers relating to mud lines where the rain water washing into the lake meets the clear lake water.

Bait fish congregate along mud lines, and these are almost always good places to target stripers.

The guides have reported good catches on a variety of techniques.

Keep an eye on your electronics. If there is a lot of bait in an area, then you can bet there will be stripers close by.

Troll umbrella rigs equipped with buck tails or swimbaits and troll these multi-lure rigs right at or above where you mark fish on your graph.

Never fish lures below the stripers as they will move up to hit a lure but very seldom do they move down.

Both flat lines, planner boards and down lines have been working depending on where the stripers are positioned in the water column.

Trout, blueback herring, gizzard shad and medium-to-large shiners have all been working well on the live bait rigs.

Crappie fishing has been better than usual, and February is the time to catch some big stringers of fat fish.

The deeper docks with brush are holding some good fish, but trolling the flats and the creeks and rivers has started to produce some nice limits of these tasty fish.

Trolling crappie jigs is different from trolling for other species. First of all, you will want to use as many rods as you can handle.

Many experienced crappie anglers use as many as 12 or more rods at a time.

This type of fishing is called long lining, spider rigging or lake raking. When first starting out, try just 4-6 rods.

Place a crappie jig on a light 4- to 6-pound test line and cast it out with the boat moving about one mile per hour with your trolling motor.

Use long rods on the outside and stagger them down to where your shortest rods are directly behind the boat.

Use a different color jig on each rod and when one rod catches the most fish then switch all of the other rods over to that same or similar color jig.

Trout fishing is picking up below Buford Dam and has remained steady in the mountain Wildlife Management Areas. Continue to use earthworms where permitted by law.

Fly fishing with a double dropper rig has been good as well as casting Rapala countdown minnows on a spinning outfit.

Bank fishing: Several species are being caught from the banks right now.

Crappie, bass, stripers and catfish can all be caught from the shore. Bank fishing can be a little more challenging than fishing from a boat because you are usually committed to specific areas.

That said, bank anglers should not be afraid to switch areas and move around.

If you don't get a bite while bank fishing in the first hour, a change of scenery may be a good idea.

It may be just a short move 20 yards down the bank or maybe a short drive to another area, but remember to keep an open mind and let the fish bites be your indicator of whether to stay or move.

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. Contact him at esaldrich@yahoo.com or visit his website at aldrichfishing.com.



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