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Lake Lanier Fishing Report: Bass biting well in muddy and clear water
Eric Aldrich
Local bass angler Eric Aldrich poses with a fish he caught. - photo by For The Times

Lake Lanier’s water level rose again from last week with the off-and-on rainy weather. 

These precise levels change quickly, but presently is around 1,070.18 feet or just .82 below a full pool of 1,071. 

Parts of the main lake actually cleared a little. 

Other areas in the backs of the creeks, up lake and in the rivers remain stained to muddy from recent rains. 

Water temperatures are in the low 50’s to upper 40’s.

The Chattahoochee River below Buford Dam is clear, but this water will start to get cloudy the further down you go from off-and-on rains. 

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

Bass fishing is good and anglers are catching fish in areas with different water types. 

A lot of areas are stained to muddy from all the rain. 

Bass usually won’t swim five miles to find clearer water, so there are still bass in these areas. 

Anglers can switch things up, based on the conditions where you fish. 

Still, I have stayed out in clear deeper water this past week. 

Clearer water works best for the way I fish in winter. 

Different lures have worked this past week and the fish pulled up a little shallower in some areas. 

If the fish are present, they have let us know pretty quickly. 

If not, we have continued to move on to test more areas.

The conditions are still the same and the fish are stacking up in the ditches and eating shad and herring. 

Some of the more stained water has pulled fish shallower, but still deeper than some anglers prefer to fish. 

Remember that you can always find them  shallow.

For numbers as well as quality, fish early. 

We have been targeting the sides of ditch channels and steep banks where the water drops quickly from 10-35 or more feet deep. 

Several lures will work in this situation. 

We usually start with moving lures like a crank bait, jerk bait or a Lanier Baits Little Swimmer on a Georgia Blade Shad Spin then drag a jig around a couple of times before moving on. 

Continue to pay attention to what works and be willing to change depth or lure style based on what the fish are telling you. 

As important as what lure works are the areas they work. 

Try to duplicate the productive patterns in other similar areas.

It’s no secret that crawling a deep diving crank bait has been my personal choice recently. 

To be productive in the winter with a deep diver, anglers need to use large plugs, lighter line and reel as slow as possible while keeping your deep-diver digging on the bottom. 

This style of fishing is almost like working a jig, except the crank bait will crawl around on the bottom and rise free once you stop your retrieve. 

Make sure to invest in a lure retriever, as this lure will get hung up!

Striper fishing remains good. 

The fish are being caught in clear and stained water.

The fish seem to be grouped up well in large schools.

If you find the bait, the stripers should be close by.

Don’t get too married to an area where they might have been yesterday. 

Instead use your electronics to show you what the fish are doing right now.

The fish have been schooled up well in the creeks and in the rivers. 

Target areas where the clear water meets stained water or also where the stained water meets the muddy water. 

Gulls and loons continue to hang around the same areas where there are baitfish and stripers. 

Hopefully between seeing birds, fishing water color transition zones and in the areas your electronics confirm the fish are, you cant go wrong.

Several baits will work, but you can’t go wrong starting out with medium-to-large shiners and blueback herring. 

Anglers who are targeting larger fish can step up to a larger gizzard shad or live trout to provoke bigger stripers. 

Both flat lines, planner boards and down lines will work. 

Start out by fishing your baits a little above where you mark fish, then adjust deeper until you get a strike. 

Unlike my conventional wisdom, the deeper fish may be easier to fool. 

There have been some massive schools hanging over a 60-foot bottom that show up from top to bottom on the screen. 

Remember that the water may be stained on the surface and actually clearer below. 

In this case, fishing deeper may produce better results. 

Pulling Umbrella Rigs continues to produce numbers of fish. 

Trolling may not be your thing, but right now it will work extremely well in areas where the fish are at around 2 1/2 mph and adjust your rigs running depth from 15-30 feet deep.

The stripers continue to be caught on Bombers and McSticks around lights in the creeks where the water is not too muddy.

Crappie: A lot of the normal winter crappie areas, both up and down lake, are stained to very muddy. 

The good news is that the fish are still there and they are a little shallower than in past weeks. 

In the creeks, the crappie schools may extend between 10-30 feet deep over a 40-foot bottom. 

Fishing small crappie jigs tipped with a minnow is a hard technique to beat. 

Cast your jigs out and count them down. 

Your jigs should sink roughly a foot per minute, then reel slow and steady. 

On any give day, the shallower fish or the deeper fish can be most active so make sure to play around with depth.

You can email Eric Aldrich at with comments or questions.

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