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Lake Lanier Fishing Report: Fat crappie biting well in current conditions
Eric Aldrich
Local bass angler Eric Aldrich poses with a fish he caught. - photo by For The Times

Lake Lanier’s water level fell slightly from last week and is at 1,069.70 or 1.30 feet below the normal level of 1,071 feet. 

Lake surface temperatures this past week ranged from the upper 40’s into the lower 50’s.

The main lake is clear. 

The lower to upper creeks range from clear to stained in the backs. 

The rivers above Hwy. 53 Bridge range from slightly stained to very stained.

The Chattahoochee River below Buford Dam is a nice clear color. 

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

Bass fishing has improved from how it was just a few weeks ago. 

Some very good anglers are still struggling to catch bigger fish or even to catch over a limit in a full day of fishing.

We are slowly approaching early spring. 

Late winter and early spring offer the greatest chance to catch a trophy spotted or largemouth bass. 

We have had some consistent warmer weather, which has helped stabilize the fishing. 

I suspect we are not through with winter. 

At least not yet.

Start your day by arriving at your best area by sunrise. 

Cast a SPRO McStick Jerk bait to the bank. 

These lures were designed to fish with a jerk-and-pause retrieve, which has worked well most days. 

Also try to experiment with a slow-to-medium steady retrieve. 

The morning jerk-bait bite has been good one day, then tough the next.   

When the jerk bait bite isn’t happening, try a small soft plastic swim bait like a 3 1/2-inch Big Bites Suicide Shad rigged on a Fish Head Spin Head and fish it slowly along the bottom. 

I have witnessed anglers who fish this swimbait/Fish Head combo like it was a worm. They often out fish fellow anglers.

As the sun has heated the air, it has also raised the lake’s surface temperatures. 

Higher water temperatures will activate the plankton, which in turn activates the shad and herring. 

Areas where the baitfish are active will in turn activate the predator fish into biting. 

Keep an eye on your electronics and watch for concentrations of bait fish schools along with the bigger fish that will be feeding upon them.

On sunny days, the bass will position their bodies directly below the black floats used to support docks. 

The floats warm up quickly, which in turn warms up the water around them. 

Baitfish and bass reside directly around these floats. 

These warm zones create the ideal conditions that bass love. 

Anglers that understand this can cast their lures around these more productive areas.

Skipping a shaky head with a Lanier Baits Fruity Finesse Worm around and under local docks is time-tested and a proven technique in late winter and spring that catches fish. 

Other lures like small jigs or craw imitators will work very well around the docks. 

Small crankbaits, swimbaits, jerk baits or even an Alabama Rig may be better choices, so keep an open mind and go fishing.

The most consistent action for us has been to go bass fishing after dark. 

Lake Lanier’s bass population has been consistently active after dark and the bass we have been catching have been bigger and more aggressive than the smaller fish biting during the day. 

The two most productive lures seem to be a SPRO McStick 115 and the new deeper-diving SPRO RkCrawler. 

Striper fishing remains good. 

The fish are moving around both shallow and deep. 

Most of the lower and upper lake creeks as well up in the upper Chattahoochee river are good places to start your quest. 

These fish have only two thoughts for the next few month: eat and reproduce. 

Lake Lanier’s striper population goes through the motions of spawning but it’s almost entirely unsuccessful. 

Right now, the fish are focused on eating, but the upcoming spawn has come into view.

The best action we have encountered has happened from midway into the backs of the tributaries or big fingers of the lake. 

On overcast days, the fish have been schooling up shallow, while on sunny days they move a little deeper. Wherever they are positioned, they will feed all day long. 

Keep an eye on your electronics and also for gull and loon activity. 

You can fish a few different ways so keep an open mind. 

Trolling, live bait or casting lures or flies are all working this week. 

If you have been on the fish in previous days and weather conditions have not changed, then start your next outing there.

The fish don’t seem to be moving much except when the weather conditions change. 

If you haven’t been out in a while, start your days trolling or just idling. 

Pay special attention to long cuts or big coves located midway back in a creek.

Watch your Lowrance Electronics closely. 

When you locate a large school of fish, then either troll back and forth or deploy your live bait tackle and set up a drift through the area. 

Using flat lines seems to be working best on cloudy days, while down lines have been better on sunny days. 

That can change as the wind blows, so experiment with your live bait depths and where the fish are located in the water column. 

The best live bait is medium-to-large shiners, herring and gizzards.

Fishing after dark for stripers has been very good. 

Target lighted boat docks in the lower and mid lake creeks. Cast Bomber Long A’s, Redfins, buck tails or a SPRO McSticks will score bites.

Crappie fishing is getting good. 

The fish are very fat and healthy. We had several week days earlier this week of warm-sunny weather and that has active these fish to move shallower.

In some areas, in the stained creek and rivers, people have reported catching them from just under the surface to 10-feet deep. 

You can use a plain old bobber and add an Aberdeen style Gamakatsu No. 2 or No. 3 hook and a medium-sized shad or minnow. 

Fish the rip rap banks and move, if you don’t get a bite soon.

The docks, both shallow and deep, are holding some good fish. 

Shooting jigs or downlining live minnows are both productive methods for catching crappie. 

Shoot your jigs around the docks and allow the jig to swing back to top you as you watch the line for a strike. 

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. He would love to hear from his readers, so please email him at esaldrich@yahoo.com Remember to take a kid fishing.

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