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Lake Lanier Fishing Report: Trout season opens statewide Sunday

POSTED: March 27, 2014 6:48 p.m.

Lake Lanier’s water level is holding steady at 1,070.80 feet or 0.1 foot below a full pool of 1,071. Main lake temperatures are in the low 50s, but the back of the pockets will warm into to mid 50s on sunny days. 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: Late March and early April can be feast or famine for bass fishing. We are in one of the seasonal changes that I refer to as the “tweens”. This happens four times a year as the seasons change from winter to spring, spring to summer, summer to fall and fall into winter.

Right now some bass are in an early prespawn pattern. Some are in a late winter pattern, and others are between both patterns.

This can make for some confusing fishing patterns. One day you may catch them in 35-feet around the timber and ditches. The next day they may be under docks in 15 feet or less around spawning flats.

To be a successful bass angler in spring, you must keep an open mind. Pay attention to weather and water temperatures. Use your electronics to key on the creek and ditch channels that go from shallow to deep.

The first key is to check for the warmest water you can locate. Usually the warmer water is in the pockets, but wind-blown banks on the main lake can also be warmer than the deeper main lake water.

Bass are cold-blooded animals, and they look for the warmest water they can find. A small difference of one to two degrees can be all it takes. I like to fish moving lures on main lake wind-blown points like a SPRO McStick 110, a Mini Me Spinner bait or even the old reliable white and silver 1/2-ounce Rooster Tail.

On sunny days, the shallow water in the coves will warm up. All you really need is a moving lure that you have confidence in like a spinner bait, jerk bait or Fish Head Spin. Cast these lures on shallow secondary points or down the sides of docks. Also, it is hard to beat skipping a shaky head on the docks.

My setup for fishing docks is a Kissel Krafts Custom Rod with a Shimano reel spooled with Sunline SX1 12-pound braid, an 8-pound Sniper fluorocarbon leader and Gamakatsu ¬-ounce Alien head rigged with a Big Bite Finesse worm dipped in JJs Magic. Do you need all that to catch them? Maybe not but if you have confidence in your set up, it helps an angler to stay tuned in.

Many trophy spotted bass are being caught right now, and a lot of them are big females that are full of eggs ready to spawn. 

These are the big fish that anglers love to show off. Please take a cell phone photo and return them to the water quickly to keep them healthy, so they can reproduce and provide future trophy photos for our kids and grandkids.

There are also many 1- to 2-pound bass in the coves and around docks near channel swings. On sunny days you can catch 10- to-30 in a single day, so it is a great time to get out on the water.

Striper fishing remains pretty good and this is one of the best times of year to catch a trophy 20- to 40-pound striper. These fish are not easy to land, so you will need the proper tackle to land a big fish. Some anglers differ on their approach.

I have seen guides who use very limber fiberglass rods with lighter 12-pound line and they land most of the fish that bite. Others use medium-heavy to heavy action rods with 14-20 pound line.

Use monofilament for your main line and attach a fluorocarbon leader at the end to help fool the stripers. Monofilament stretches and is hard to break, while the fluorocarbon leader is very hard for fish to see and it has great abrasion-resistant qualities that keep stripers from rubbing through and breaking off.

Anglers’ choices of baits also vary greatly in the spring. Some anglers swear that netting their own shad or blueback herring is the best way to go, and that is hard to argue with. 

Throwing a cast net takes practice and tends to mess up the boat a little, but it is hard to argue the value of using the actual forage fish that the stripers are eating.

Finding the best bait can also be challenging, so there are some advantages to buying your bait too. Herring, trout, shiners and occasionally gizzard shad can be purchased at your local bait store. Buying bait allows anglers to get going much quicker and it usually works very well.

If you are more interested in catching numbers of stripers, then smaller herring and shiners will be good choices. If you are targeting a trophy, then larger trout, big gizzard shad and even a large chunk of cut bait can be your best options.

Pay close attention to your Humminbird Electronics and utilize your Side Imaging technology to show fish and baitfish schools that are on either side of the boat. When you see them on Side Imaging, you can set a waypoint and go over that exact spot with your GPS. It is a very simple and easy-to-use tool for anglers.

Flat lined or planner boards rigged with live baits are your best option right now as many of the stripers are roaming the shallows.

It is hard to beat seeing a striper explode on your bait then hear the drag zipping away! 

That’s about as good as it gets and it will wake you up very quickly. You can also cast jerk baits like Bombers or Red Fins or the old reliable buck tails too.

A Captain Mack’s Chipmunk jig or SPRO Buck Tails are both staples year round for striper fishing on Lake Lanier. Some anglers will outfit umbrella rigs with the afore mentioned jigs and troll these multi-lured rigs slowly while looking for concentrations of stripers.

The night bite is on and off, but you can still catch some good fish casting McSticks and Bomber Long As back in the creeks. A lot of striper anglers are hooking large spotted bass and largemouth bass as a bonus. The best action occurs from sunset to around 11 p.m.

Crappie: Fishing is very good, and some crappie are showing signs of already spawning. While this is true, many are still fat and full of eggs. 

Crappie are abundant on Lake Lanier and anglers are allowed a limit of 30 per person. So you can really load the freezer with these tasty fish without harming the population.

Crappie are a great fish for kids to catch when they are shallow like they are right now. 

Fish around the bridges and docks with brush or trees that are laying down in shallow coves. 

Use an old reliable Zebco 33 or spinning rod and reel. Attach a practice weight to the end of the line before going fishing to allow your kids a chance to learn to cast.

Trout: Many of Georgia’s trout waters are open year round, but this Sunday marks the official trout season for streams and rivers that are designated closed in the offseason. You can bet the Georgia Department of Natural Resources has been busy stocking all trout waters. With the consistent rains and stocking of fish, Georgia’s stream and rivers are ready to be fished.

You can catch trout on just about any lure this week. Many of the newly released fish are just flat out dumb and will eat any lure. Pick your favorite method and go trout fishing, but make sure if you are 16 years or older that you buy a fishing license and a trout stamp.

Licenses are now available mainly on line. 

Go togeorgiawildlife.com and click on “Buy Fishing License Here” in the lower right hand corner of the page. You will need to have access to a printer.

Keep a copy of the license in your wallet, purse or pocket. 

If you do not have access to a printer, you can see where to buy your license from the closest retailer. This information can usually be found at your local tackle store.

Bank Fishing: With trout season opening, it would be hard to argue that this is a great time to fish for trout from the bank. If you wade, please make sure to wear a life preserver. 

I sound like a broken record, but you can’t go wrong casting a small 1/16 or 1/8-ounce Rooster Tail around the rapids.

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.



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