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Lake Lanier Fishing Report: Cold weather indicates bass are biting at deeper depths
Eric Aldrich
Local bass angler Eric Aldrich poses with a fish he caught. - photo by For The Times

Lake Lanier fell slightly this past week and is around 1,070.83 feet or .17 below the normal full pool of 1,071 feet. 

Lake surface temperatures are in the low 50s.

The main lake and lower lake creeks mouths are clear to slightly stained and range from stained to very stained in the backs. 

The upper lake creeks and rivers are stained to very stained to even muddy in areas. 

The Chattahoochee River below Buford Dam is clear, except on rain or snow occasions which may wash stained to muddy water into the river. 

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

Bass: The lake is feeling the effects of the cold snow run off, colder temperatures and the sudden change over the last few week’s seemingly drastic change from mild fall conditions into almost deep winter conditions.

When I mention to people that we went fishing in the snow and cold like we had in North Georgia last week, people seem to think we are crazy. 

Then when you tell them you caught the heck out of them, they either don’t believe it or they can’t understand the fun in spending hours in the cold even if fishing is great.

Anglers are catching the majority of bass out deeper toward their normal winter haunts. 

There will always be fish shallow, but usually it’s a fish here and a fish there deal when water temperatures dropped to 50 degrees or colder.

You may still find groups of fish that are shallow at sunrise, sunset and during active-feeding periods. 

Study your lake maps, past fishing logs and locate defined ditches that have steep drop offs. 

Be on your best area at safelight and make a few casts shallow to test the waters. 

The same lures (SPRO McSticks, mid to deep running crank baits, Georgia Blade underspins and spinnerbaits) will produce bites when fish bass are shallow, but also add a slower presentation like dragging a Lanier Baits Fruity Worm and shaky head can often coax an extra bite or two.

We have started to spend 90% of our fishing trips by starting out and remaining in water 35-60 feet deep. 

I have really enjoyed the new Georgia Blade Shespoons and Jigs too. 

Use your electronics to pin point at the best depths. 

Either fish directly above the fish below your boat or try backing off and make long casts, allow your lures to hit bottoms then either drag your jig slowly or pop a spoon off the bottom and let it fall then repeat all the way below the boat. 

Anglers who are willing to spend the time, study their electronics and keep up with the fish movements often can spot lock their trolling motors in an area and catch one fish after the other when they’re schooled on the bottom. 

Anglers who fish multiple times a week have a distinct advantage in patterning the fish. 

The average angler wants to fish in shallow water. 

Most anglers consider 15-feet or more deep water. 

Rob Jordan said something that put the concept of deep into sensible perspective. 

The average size bass boat is 20-feet long. 

Most 5-year-olds can easily toss a pair of pliers from the bow way on past the person at the stern. 

That reminds me, I need some new pliers.

The point is that once your Jig, Spoon or worm hits bottom, your lure works pretty much the same in 5-feet as it works in does at 50-feet. 

What matters most is finding the depth where the fish are located.

One last easy tip for finding the best cold water bass locations; study your lake maps the night before a trip. 

Navionics has a great app for your phone, but I still like the old school paper maps. 

Look for areas where the depth typography lines are so close together that they combine and appear as one thick line. 

These are areas with steep dropoffs are located and fish can swim from shallow to deep while expending the least amount of energy.  

Striper fishing has ranged every where from fair to great. 

Stripers on Lake Lanier in the winter have really only one thing on their minds: eating.

Usually, once you locate the large schools of bait fish the striped bass and other predator fish will be right there mixed in with them. 

Stripers can be very shallow or very deep, but you can bet wherever they are, they’re there for the purpose of feeding up before the spring.

Pulling medium shiners, blueback herring and smaller trout have all worked well on either flat lines when the fish are located in less than 20 feet of water or down (weighted) lines when the stripers are deeper than that. 

My Lowrance is showing a lot of bait and stripers in the pockets and midway back into the creeks both up and down lake. 

Take advantage of God’s natural fish finders and keep an eye out for gulls, loons and herons as they often will give away the best places to start looking and catching fish. 

Your electronics will show what depths the fish are located so use that information as a guideline for where to set up your baits in the water column. 

There have been some shallow stripers that you can catch by casting spoons and SPRO Bucktails to fish that are pushing bait close to the surface. 

This is my favorite way to catch stripers. 

Anytime you encounter gulls diving in an area, make sure you have a rod and lure always at the ready so you can cast into the action.

Crappie fishing has been okay, but these panfish are doing different things in different locations and depths all around the lake. 

If the water you are targeting is clear, the crappie have tended to be deeper. 

If the water in your location is stained, the fish has been shallower as a general rule.

Your electronics are essential in the winter time to determine both where the fish are located and at what depth. 

Small crappie jigs or live minnows or shad on a down lines are both working the same as they were last week. 

You can email Eric Aldrich at with comments or questions.

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