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Lake Lanier Fishing Report: Crappie fishing a great bet from the banks

POSTED: February 22, 2013 3:58 p.m.

Water temperatures are varying a few degrees, but are averaging around 50 degrees. The lake level is up again and will rise more with the rain that is forecast. The lake level is 1,065.31 or 5.69 feet below the full pool of 1,071.

The main lake water is clear to stained and the creeks and rivers are slightly to very stained in the backs.

The Chattahoochee River below Buford dam is clear.

Bass fishing is a little more hit and miss, but anglers who put in the time should be catching some nice fat fish. The weather patterns have had a pretty big influence on how the bass are biting. Sunny days are pulling the fish up around docks in 15-to 25-feet deep.

The black floats on these docks tend to heat the water directly around them. You can catch fish with jerk baits or by casting jig head worms beside the docks. Bass will strike the jerk baits as the pass by or will follow the shaky head worms to the bottom. A lot of strikes on the worms will come as they fall beside the floats.

On cloudy days, the bass will disperse. They will either stay deep in the water column or move shallower and disperse as the follow their prey into the creeks and coves.

These bass will rarely ignore a curly-tail jig hopped in front of their noses or a well-presented crank bait worked close to the bottom. Use a SPRO Little John DD or Fat Papa 70, and crank them slowly thorough rocky bottoms. Try to keep your crank bait in contact with the bottom as most strikes will occur as your lure deflects off an object.

Working jigs, jigging spoons or a fish head spin around steep rocky banks and out in the first line of timber is a tried-and-true winter pattern and this action should continue until water temperatures reach the mid-50s.

Use your electronics to find the bait fish schools and, better yet, the bass below them. You will often see fish rise off the bottom to intercept your lure as it falls. A lot of these deeper strikes will be very light. Use a high-quality rod and reel outfitted with Sunline fluorocarbon so that you can feel these deep bites.

Striper fishing has been good and the fish are biting both up and down lake this week. Finding the baitfish is key to locating the stripers.

Electronics are your eyes under the water. I will use my 998c side imaging while idling into the creeks. Pay special attention to where you mark the big bait fish schools and will fish around those same areas. Gulls and loons are also good indicators that there are fish in the area.

Also pay special attention to mud lines where clear water meets stained or muddy water in the creeks and rivers.

The stripers have been shallow in the backs of the creeks, and also in secondary pockets midway back in the creeks and rivers early in the day and consistently on cloudy days. Pull flat lines and also use planner boards to cover a wider path. One little trick I like to use is to feed out 15-to 25-feet of line, then tie on a balloon at that point on your line, then feed another 50 feet or more of line to allow one of your flat lines to get out behind your regular flat lines.

Small-to medium-sized rout and blueback herring have been working best for numbers, but don’t be afraid to put out a large trout or native gizzard shad to entice a trophy fish into biting. Late winter and early spring offer your best chance of catching a trophy striper on Lake Lanier.

Many stripers over 30 pounds, and even a few over 40 pounds, are weighed in every spring at local tackle shops. You can also take a picture and measurements of these same fish and have a fiberglass mount made so that you can release your lunker to fight another day.

Later in the day, you may need to move out a little deeper and set out down lines or fish an umbrella rig at around 25-feet deep. Finding the bait is essential for deeper fishing. Always present your down lines right at, or slightly above, where you mark fish on your graph as stripers will usually be looking up when they feed.

Some anglers match the forage they find by throwing a cast net. Catching bait with a cast net is an art form and it takes some practice to be successful. Learning to throw a cast net will reward the angler with free bait and better catches for a lifetime.

The nighttime Bomber Long A has been hit and miss, but there are some fish showing up after dark that will strike the long jerk baits.

Crappie fishing has been very good and many anglers are catching their limits in a four-hour day. Trolling small Hal Flies or Marabou Jigs continues to produce some good stringers of the tasty pan fish.

Use your electric motor and troll at a medium pace and adjust your speed until you get a bite. Target the stained water, but avoid the very muddy water caused by recent rains. Run your boat out to the area where the water color improves and start fishing there.

Set your poles in a secure rod holder and use light line. Rig your lines with two jigs and tip them with live crappie minnows to increase your odds. Start out with different colors and pay close attention to which jigs get the most bites.

The majority of crappie are relating to docks, so casting or shooting jigs under these docks can be very productive. Rig a jig or downline crappie minnows if you are fishing from a dock, and drop them directly around brush. You can also fish crappie minnows under a bobber, too.

Trout fishing is getting better and the Department of Natural Resources is starting to stock some trout. If you can find out where the trout are being put in the water, then this a bonus because these newly-introduced fish are stupid and hungry. They will strike a lure with reckless abandon because they have never seen a hook in their entire lives while living in the hatcheries. This action will improve as stocking efforts increase before spring.

Bank fishing: Crappie fishing continues to be your best bet when fishing from the banks. Buy a slip bobber and learn how to use it. You can set your line stop to varying depths. This means you can cast your slip bobber next to bridge pilings and let the minnow fall 10-15 feet. Experiment with these bobbers.

They will help you to target many species on Lake Lanier. Having the ability to adjust depths will greatly increase your odds of catching fish.

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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