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Lake Lanier Fishing Report: Bass alternating between shallow and deep water

POSTED: March 20, 2014 10:28 p.m.

Lake Lanier’s water level is 1,070.84 feet, or 0.16 foot below a full pool of 1,071 feet. I must admit, I was skeptical of how the Army Corps of Engineers would keep Lake Lanier from flooding. But so far so good, and it sure is great to have the lake at full pool.

Lake surface temperatures have held steady in the lower 50s. The main lake is clear, and rivers and creeks are stained in the backs.

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

Bass fishing has been hit or miss, but there have been some beautiful days and it’s hard to beat a day on the lake. Anglers who are out on the water several days a week have an advantage because they can find the best areas at the right time of day.

The good news is that even if you only fish once a month, resources, like this report, are available for you to learn and utilize the most recent patterns.

The bass are moving from the deep water into the shallows and back deep again throughout the day.

Lake Lanier’s spotted and largemouth bass are extremely comfortable when the water temperatures are in the 50s, then when the sun comes out the ambient temperature kicks their metabolism up a notch and make them even more active.

Start your day out on main lake and secondary points that lead into the shallower bays.

Fish a lure that will get down in the 5- to 7-foot range like a SPRO McRip 96 or a Bandit 300 in a shad color. Cast these lures around rocky banks on light line. I prefer Sunline Sniper in 6- or 8-pound test on light spinning tackle or some of the ultra-thin braided lines like SX-1 12-pound test with a fluorocarbon leader.

Make long casts to rock and clay banks and work your lure where it contacts the bottom, and slow crank them while keeping them running through the rocks.

A lot of your strikes will happen when these lures are banging around on the bottom, but do not be surprised if a big spotted bass attacks these lures right as they lose contact with the bottom. This method of fishing will work all day long.

As the sun gets up, the bass are really relating to certain docks. You may go down and fish six docks and not get a bite, only to reach the seventh one and connect with a big fish. Pay attention to the type of strikes you get.

If you cast your shaky head around a dock and the line swims out away from it, set the hook, land the fish and make another cast into the same area. Bass are greedy, and one will often catch food and get away from the school because other bass will try to steal it from them.

I have been using some of my buddy’s custom 1/16-ounce jig heads with a Big Bites finesse worm because they skip real well and they fall slowly.

There are several brands of shaky heads, like Spot Stickers, that are made locally and come in the lighter weights, but I will switch to a 1/18-ounce Gamakatsu Alien head when the water heats up a bit and the bass prefer a quicker falling lure.

The jerkbait bite on main lake rocky points is where a lot of anglers are catching some big fish. Cast a SPRO McStick, Slender Pointer or a Smithwick Rogue out in the wind and work these lures with a jerk-jerk-pause action.

It is one of the most awesome strikes when you go to jerk and the fish just about rips the rod out of your hands.

Use 10- to 12-pound fluorocarbon to get these lures to run a little deeper, or try a monofilament of the same weight to keep your lure higher up in the water column. Some largemouth and spotted bass are shallow in the creeks, and some anglers have caught them while targeting stripers after dark.

Striper fishing has been fair to good. If you are having trouble finding the hard-fighting fish then it may pay to hire a reputable guide, as they really learn the lake and the fish, and there are some big ones that will bite well right now.

Spring is the time when the female bass migrate to shallow water in the rivers and creeks as they attempt to reproduce. Landlocked stripers rarely reproduce, but they go through the motions, and that means there are some big fish up in shallow water.

Large lures often attract the biggest stripers in spring, but some anglers have also caught a good number of striper off the creeks with smaller live bait, as well as bass or crappie lures. Trout and herring continue to be great choice for live bait fishing for the hard-fighting fish. There have been some really big fish showing up in recent reports.

Striper fishing is not hard to do, and you can even fish out of non-traditional boats like open bow, ski boats and (believe it or not) Jet Skis. Some anglers use john boats, kayaks or canoes. You will just need a medium-heavy rod spooled with 14- to 20-pound test.

Get some Gamakatsu Octopus Hooks and tie them with a quality knot to good line. Add a live well for keeping baitfish alive. Feed out about 100 feet of line or so, secure your rod and reel, and wait.

You can look for the birds, like loons and gulls, but they are quickly moving back out to the ocean.

Make sure you have a quality fish finder, preferably with a GPS, so you can mark the best areas. You can spend under $100 for a basic unit or you can spend $10,000 or more. Once you start catching stripers, they may spoil anglers for other fish.

These hard fighters can take 10 minutes or more to land. They are a bunch of fun, plus fish under 15 pounds can make for great eating and they have a lot of meat.

The night bite is still happening but it will start to diminish when the water warms up to 60 degrees. Continue to cast large jerk baits, bucktail jigs or even a Fluke. a Big Bites Jerk Shad or Cane Thumper on a jig head.

Crappie fishing remains good, and they are biting on just about every method. Anglers who troll are catching big limits in the shallow bays by trolling Hal Flies, Marabou Jigs and just about every other type of jig.

Continue to use crappie minnows under bobbers around the bridges and docks for some good action. Some days the crappie will bite all day, but they seem to really turn on right before dark. Also cast Rooster Tails and other inline spinners for crappie in the backs of the creeks from the shore or from the boat.

Trout: Pick your favorite year-round trout stream and get out and fish, because they are biting well.

For me, there are really only two lures I carry when trout fishing: A white and silver Rooster Tail or a small Rapala Count Down minnow.

There are few things better than walking the Chattahoochee River below Buford Dam and catching trout with a spinning reel or fly rod. Just remember to wear a life jacket, even if you are only wading in water inches deep. It is the law and it does save lives.

Bank Fishing: This week you can catch a variety of fish from shore. Two methods will catch almost any species of fish.

Cast a worm out without a weight or anything else. Use an ultra-light wire Gamakatsu lure and earthworm without a bobber, and thread it naturally on the hook with the tail ends hanging. Just cast it out and wait, and you may catch a catfish, bream, white bass, walleye or who knows what else.

If you prefer to fish at a faster pace, get an ultra-light spinning reel and a 1/8-ounce Rooster Tail and walk the banks. This will also catch variety of species.

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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