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Lake Lanier Fishing Report: Bass bite will benefit from warmer weather
Eric Aldrich
Local bass angler Eric Aldrich poses with a fish he caught. - photo by For The Times

Lake Lanier’s water level remains steady at 1,070.75 or just .25 foot below the full pool mark of 1,071. 

Lake temperatures are creeping back up after last week’s cold front and we are seeing high 50s out in the main lake to the low 60s in the back of sunny pockets.  

The main lake and lower lake creek mouths are clear. 

The backs of the creeks remain slightly stained, mostly from pollen or when we receive rain inflow. 

The Chattahoochee River is flowing clear below Buford Dam. 

Check generation schedules before heading out to the river at 770-945-1466.

SPRO Tournament: Don’t forget the SPRO Lures only tournament is on April 1 at Laurel Park. 

Go to to register. The deadline is March 27.

Bass: We struggled slightly through last week’s cold fronts, but it was because we were cold. 

The fish didn’t seem to mind as they were and will continue to move up shallower as we approach the magical water temperature of 65 degrees. 

That is probably happening in a sunny pocket somewhere out on Lake Lanier as you read this report.

I have read in several magazines and web sources that a bass’ preferred water temperature is 75 degrees. 

I have personally talked to thousands of bass I have caught and have yet to hear them speak or tell me anything, so who really knows? 

I believe when water temperatures reach 65 degrees out in the creek mouths and closer to the main lake, that the fishing is about as good as it gets. 

And we are about there.

The great thing about fishing in the spring is that you can usually catch bass the way you want to. 

My reports become a little more scattered because so many methods work in spring, so lets make it simple. 

Grab your favorite rod(s) and take your first, second and third favorite lures and go fishing.

If you asked me what are my favorite three lures to cast in early spring, my answer is as follows:

1. My first choice is probably obvious. A SPRO McStick 110 will catch fish year round, but it truly excels during the spring. 

When surface water temperatures reach the mid-60s on the main lake, it’s time to move shallow out to the shallow main lake humps and points. 

The spotted and largemouth bass will moving up shallow in wolfpacks to feed and pair up for the spawn. 

Target both the shallow coves and in the creeks, but don’t be afraid to hit the longer points and shallower humps around main lake. 

Cast the McStick to the banks. 

Your McStick will run 3-5 feet deep and it seems to work best when your lure contacts the bottom during the beginning of your cast. 

Reel your lure at a slow-to-medium steady pace, just fast enough where you can see or feel the lure wobble and hold on. 

Cast through the area and move on because the fish will be shallow somewhere close by right now.

2. My second choice for spring fishing would be a Lanier Baits Jerk Shad. 

Most angler’s first or at least second choice would be to tie on a topwater lure. 

Many of these same people think of a soft-jerk bait as a subsurface lure but my friend, Jimmy Sanders taught me how to fish it differently. 

Like the McStick, you just cast it out and reel it just fast enough to keep it on the surface. 

Once you get your first strike, you will put down your topwater plug for the day. 

Spotted bass will explode on the surface when they eat this lure.

The Lanier Baits Jerk Shad is a fluke-style, soft-jerk bait. 

I use a heavy hook and oversized swivel. 

Tie on a No. 5 Gamaktsu EWG Hook in front of a three-foot leader of 12-14-pound Sunline Fluorocarbon. 

Tie the other end of your leader to a big No. 4 SPRO Swivel, then tie that to your main-braided line. 

I use a Kissel Krafts medium-heavy weight spinning rod with a 2500 series reel spooled with 16-Pound SX Sunline Braid. 

The reason you want you oversized hardware is because you want to reel these Jerk Shad at a steady pace right below the surface and the extra weight allows you to make long casts. 

The strikes can be fierce and usually the bass hook themselves. 

Once you feel the fish, just lean into him, sweep your line as you set the hook and keep your rod bent so that there is no slack in your line.

3. My third choice has changed from recent years with my new relationship with the friendly folks at Georgia Blade Bait Company. 

I have started to have great success catching fish with a spinner bait and have also seen others have similar results. 

I really like their Premium Spinner Baits. 

Plus it’s a power-fishing method that works well when anglers stick with it and move around in the hunt for groups of fish. 

Bass will eat a spinner bait 24/7 you just have to get it in front of them and figure out what pace they will eat it.

So where can you catch fish with a spinner bait? 

Almost anywhere! 

Certain conditions influence when and where you should cast your lures. 

You can almost always catch fish on a spinner bait early in the mornings or at sundown. 

Target areas where the lake bottom transitions from rock to clay or clay to sand.

But a spinner bait also works great during active feeding times, moving weather fronts when bass are bedding and along windy banks as long as the wind keeps blowing. 

Cast over brush or rock on windy banks. Reel this lure just fast enough where you can see it below the surface. 

Experiment with your retrieve speeds and impart an occasional jerk to flair the spinner baits skirt which can trigger strikes.

Other lures that friends or we have reported catching fish include just about any type of soft plastics on a variety of rigging around shallow docks in the pockets and coves. 

I prefer a shaky head with a Fruity Worm or a Senko rigged whacky style so that I can skip it just about anywhere. 

Medium-depth crank baits are working especially well along rocky bottoms on humps and points. 

The bass will hit a topwater plug, but that action has been sporadic. 

Most of the lures mentioned above will also catch bass after dark. 

Striper fishing is good and the fish are moving in and out of the shallower coves and pockets. 

On cloudy days or when we have had consistent weather conditions you may see fish in the shallows at any time. 

When the bait is depleted or scattered or a front is moving in, they may move out to deeper water, but not too deep. 

The majority of the stripers are in water less than 40-feet deep and it’s a great time to fish. 

While some of these fish may be attempting to spawn (unsuccessfully), they are actively gorging themselves on herring and shad.

On Lake Lanier the herring and shad, like other fish move up shallow when the water temperatures are approaching the 70s. 

I think that time will come a few weeks away from now. 

But the fish don’t just swim directly out of 100-feet of water into the shallows and back out deep over night. 

Instead, these bait fish move along migration routs in large schools as they diet on a variety of tiny prey including plankton, and small pre-emergent’s for both shad and herring. 

An adult herring diets allow for bigger prey so they also include newly hatched baby fry, pre-emergent crawfish and even the eggs of spawning fish including their own. 

Most of these tiny microorganisms will gravitate to sunny-warmer water and all of the food chain will follow.

Lure and bait selections this week are pretty simple because the majority of the feeding fish are relatively shallow. 

These stripers are moving up shallow and targeting baitfish like threadfin shad, which are around 2-3 inches long, herring which can reach 12-or-more inches and gizzard shad which can be way larger at several pounds. 

Use shallow rigs for your baitfish and keep a McStick or Redfin ready at all times to fool the skinny water fish that show themselves within casting distance.

If you had only four hours to fish, where should you start and what should you do? 

Start out by visiting your local bait supplier way before sunrise, if possible, so that you can get to your first area before sunrise. 

Purchase a few dozen herring and ask them for several larger-size herring, but mostly get herring under six inches.

Go into the creeks both up lake and find a long pocket midway back in the creek with a small or large feeder creek that supplies water to the lake. 

Keep and eye out for any type of aquatic birds that feed on the same prey stripers do. 

Watch your electronics, as the stripers should be located somewhere along the ditch that feeds into the back of your pocket on out into the main lake.

I have seen stripers almost ‘blacking out’ the screen from top to bottom that showed us we were over a massive school of fish. 

Of course, our modern screens are in color, so it looked more like overlaying lines of red, yellow and orange. 

Even with this mega school, we had to wait for bites, but not too long. 

I think there are so many bait fish in the area, you just had to wait for them to find your bait.

Flat lines, planner boards and the balloon rig discussed last week will all produce when the stripers are shallow in spring. 

Use No. 2 Gamakatsu Octopus Hook tied directly to your unweighted line and hook the herring through the lips, so that it swims naturally. 

Note that I saw where an angler who was not getting bit switched over and hooked his bait through the top dorsal fin under the back. 

This made his baitfish struggle and it was just what the fish wanted. 

Always be prepared and never give up!

Crappie fishing is strong for anglers who can locate these groups of fish that have moved up shallower as they prepare to spawn. 

When you catch a crappie, there is a good chance it was not alone. 

The good news is that the fish are shallower where they are easier to find. 

Sometimes, it’s not just all about catching fish.  

I saw what I thought was a black-plastic garbage bag under water. 

As I moved in to my surprise, I could clearly see a large school of about 100 crappie. 

These fish were in the middle of their courtship, but they would still eat a small crappie jig or minnow. 

They almost looked like they were feeding on something because they were pressing so tight together. 

I assume the males were trying to fertilize as the females were releasing their eggs. 

Super cool! 

I have never seen that on the Nature Channel.

Fishing with jigs is still a strong pattern for catching these shallow, fat, tasty critters, but I go old school and fish with minnows under a float. 

It’s just really relaxing with some fishing excitement to break up the day. 

Grab a float and small Gamakatsu No. 1 Aberdeen Style hooked through the minnows lips and cast it around docks or brush inside the coves and pockets off the main lake.

You can email Eric Aldrich at with comments or questions.

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