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Lake Lanier Fishing Report: Thanksgiving usually a good time to catch bass

POSTED: November 15, 2012 8:13 p.m.

Lake Lanier water temperatures are in the upper 50s. The Corps is pulling out a lot of water and the lake level is at 1,059.20 feet, or 11.80 below a full pool of 1,071. As mentioned in the recent article in The Times, it looks as if we can expect to drop 6 inches a week through the winter unless we see some significant rains. I stay optimistic that winter and spring rains will bring the levels back up to where they need to be. The main lake is clear to stained and the creeks and rivers are slightly stained. The river below Buford dam is stained.

Bass: In reviewing my past years’ fishing logs, Thanksgiving week is usually a very productive time to fish, and bass fishing has stabilized a little as the lake turnover is finishing up. We have found a few pretty reliable patterns, but the fish don’t always get the reports, so continue to keep an open mind and make adjustments as conditions dictate.

There has been a sporadic shallow bite for largemouth and spotted bass in less than 20 feet of water around docks and rocky banks in the creeks. These bass will eat a jig, shaky head, jerk bait and other lures as well, depending on the feeding activity times and weather conditions. Stair step a jig and craw trailer, or a shaky head with a Big Bites Cane Stick, or finesse worm around docks, or rock and clay banks to entice some healthy bass to bite. At times the bites will be very soft with the fish just swimming off or a mushy feel. When in doubt, set the hook.

There are also good numbers of spotted bass showing up in the deeper ditches from 20- to 40-feet that will eat a jig or Texas Rigged worm, and these fish are starting to group up a little better. If you catch one, work the area over well and you may have a flurry of action in short order.

Both the deep and the shallow bass will strike jerk baits, spinner baits or even topwater plugs during active feeding periods. If a front is moving through, or on windy banks, this can be a productive method.

Stripers: The stripers have been on several different patterns and are hitting both down lake and up in the rivers. Keep an open mind and let the gulls and loons, your electronics and the fish activity dictate the best methods to try.

Finding the bait schools and active feeding fish are essential elements for a productive day. I rely on my Humminbird fish finders and the natural birds like gulls, loons and kingfishers to show me the most productive areas to target. I can’t even remember how many times I have seen a single seagull circle an area and give away a school of fish.

Even if they are just circling loons, you can bet there are most likely some stripers around feeding on the same bait fish that the loons are too.

The stripers can be schooling on the surface or eating bait 30- to 50-feet deep, so flat or down lined live hairs may be your best choice. I prefer to catch stripers with artificial lures, so buck tails, bomber or McStick jerk baits, small flies and even spoons are all worth a try when the fish are up on the surface. The main mistake I see anglers make is to cast a lure one or two times, then tie another one on and repeat the same one or two casts just to retie again.

If you know your lure is close to the size or color of the natural bait, it is much better to stick with a lure you have confidence in and make minor speed or depth adjustments until you unlock exactly what the fish prefer. I have never caught a fish on a lure while I was tying it to my line.

We are still enjoying some decent nighttime action, fishing Bomber Long As and McStick jerk baits after dark around main lake islands, points and creek mouths.

Crappie fishing is good and anglers are finding crappie in several different areas. The flats in the backs of the creeks and up in the rivers that are located near the ditch channels with brush or docks can hold some good schools of these tasty pan fish.

One angler I know has reported catching some good stringers of fish out in the creek mouths around shallow exposed brush piles.

Crappie are striking both live bait and artificial lures.

Trout: The trout below the dam have endured lower oxygen levels, but with the lake turnover process nearing its conclusion the water and subsequently the fishing will improve. Recent rains have helped the water conditions in the creeks so trout fishing is North Georgia mountains has been good and should stay that way for a while.

Bank fishing: This week’s bank fishing report is more about the fishing experience than a specific method or species of fish. A beautiful fall day is a great time to walk along the banks of your local lake, pond, river or streams, with or without a fishing pole in hand.

Turning over rocks in the water can be a whole lot of fun and you will often find critters that clue you in to what the fish around the banks are targeting. You can capture some crawfish, minnows or insects that are great bait; just make sure to check your local regulations to make sure you’re allowed to use live bait.

Or take a Zebco 33 with a 1/6th ounce Rooster tail or other lure and just enjoy and be thankful for God’s gift to us: The great outdoors.

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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