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Lake Lanier Fishing Report: Crappie biting best right now at shallow depths
Eric Aldrich
Local bass angler Eric Aldrich poses with a fish he caught. - photo by For The Times

Lake Lanier’s water level is at 1,070.58 feet or .42 below the normal full pool of 1,071. 

Main lake surface temperatures are hovering around 50 degrees, but we have found both colder and warmer temperatures in some of the creeks.

The main lake and lower lake creeks are clear to slightly stained. 

The upper lake creeks and rivers have ranged from almost clear to stained. 

The Chattahoochee River below Buford Dam is clear and the trout are biting below Buford Dam.

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

Bass fishing has rated from fair to good. 

Expect to see some changes with the incoming cold-weather forecast for the weekend into the first of next week. 

If the weather people are right, then expect water temperature to drop. 

Water temperatures are hovering right around 50 degrees. 

If our water temperatures drop and quickly fall into the 40s, I expect that will see a significant shad die off. 

I love fishing in the cold, but hope the forecast is wrong.

Bundle up and get out at daylight for the possibility for a brief morning flurry of activity. 

Start your days working your favorite jerk bait, crank bait or shad style swim baits. 

Target both main lake and secondary points or try them in back of long pockets with significant ditches flowing through them. 

If it’s too cold or you can’t get on the water early, then don’t fret. 

These same lures and techniques can still work all day long in the winter. 

You will often catch more fish during the warmest part of the day, especially cold sunny days. 

The bass are also biting a variety of lures, including crank baits, jigs, shaky heads, drop shot rigs and spoons. 

Keep an open mind, but when you find fish, you should thoroughly work the same or similar locations.

If you have read these reports twice, then I have probably mentioned the SPRO Mc Stick 110 at least half of the time. 

The designer of this lure, Mike McClelland, intended it to be worked with a “Jerk, jerk, pause, jerk” cadence. 

Lots of the time, I like to fish these jerk baits stupid style (just cast and a slow-steady retrieve), but in cold water the standard jerk, jerk, pause retrieve works best for big fish in winter. 

Big spotted largemouth and even striped bass will come out of deep water to crush these ‘wounded herring’ imitators, even on the coldest days.

I have been experimenting with using a Lanier Bait’s Little Swimmer, Big Bites Baits Shadolicious, or Kietec swim baits on a variety of rigs including the Damiki Ball Jig Head, Georgia Blade Shad Spin, SPRO Buck Tail and some of the swim bait heads offered by Gamakatsu. 

The options mentioned above all have their pluses and minuses. 

When casting, the Shad Spin and Little Swimmer combo has worked very well, when the fish are active. 

For vertical fishing, The Damiki Head and Little Swimmer combo holds the Little Swimmer level and keeps it there, even when standing still while hovering over deep fish. 

These two lure combinations will allow an angler to fish from the bank all the way out to 100 feet deep.

Striper fishing is good and the fish are really feasting on threadfin, gizzard shad and blueback herring as they feed up before their false late-winter spawn. 

If you can find the fish and get a bait or lure in front of their noses, you should get a bite, but you must first find where these hard-fighting fish are located.

The problem is that these fish are spread out right now. 

The main thing they are looking for is bait. 

And you should be too. 

The winter weather came upon us late this season. 

Now it has arrived and the location of the baitfish may have changed since your last outing. 

Rely on your electronics, along with any fish, bird or bait activity that you witness on the surface to show you your best locations.

My Lowrance graphs shows a lot of fish in the creek mouths and they seem to also be further back in the pockets, creeks and rivers. 

Start you day setting out live bait rigs with both weighted and unweighted lines and slowly wind drift through productive locations. 

If you know how to use and own some planner boards, then that will give you a distinct advantage over other angers who don’t. 

Planner boards allow you to spread out your live bait offerings. 

When you get really good with planner boards, you can also troll umbrella rigs too. 

You can cover a path several times wider than boats without them, so you increase your odds of putting these baits in front of a hungry striper.

Trolling umbrella rigs, casting SPRO Buck Tails to both surface schooling as well as under water activity and even night fishing are all producing some bites this week.

Crappie fishing has started to pick up and the fish have been a little shallower for the past week. 

Colder weather may slow down the bite, but these tasty pan fish are feeding up before the early spring spawn. 

They are fat and tasty and this is the time of year to catch the big girls.

Look around any for any type of submerged wood cover like brush piles, fish habitat like crates or pallets or even isolated timber in the middle of the coves. 

Scan these areas with your electronics in water shallower than 35 feet. 

The presence or close relation to docks just makes things better. 

The fish are grouped up in tight schools. 

When you catch one, there should be a bunch more so you can stay and play. 

Continue to fish small crappie jigs on light line. 

I like darker colors with bright heads in the winter, but experienced crappie anglers know that color options ebb and flow during the day. 

Experiment to find the perfect color combo. 

Or just get a bucket of “minners”, some Gamakatsu Aberdeen Style Hooks and a few split shot and fish these same locations.

You can email Eric Aldrich at with comments or questions.

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