Water Conditions: Lake Lanier’s water level has risen to 1,069.67 feet, which is just 1.33 feet under the full pool of 1,071. Water temperatures remain close to 50 degrees. The main lake and creeks mouths are clear, and the creeks and rivers are slightly stained to muddy. The Chattahoochee River below Buford Dam is mostly clear. Check generation schedules before heading out to the river at 770-945-1466.
Bass fishing has been a little tougher, but some anglers are still keeping up with catching the fish. The bass seemed to be grouped up in ditches, along bluff walls and on the edges of deep timber. Now is the time to really get in tune with your Lowrance Electronics and to trust what your Structure Scan and traditional 2D sonar can and will show you.
It’s an old angler saying that fish eat all night during the full moon and are harder to catch during the day. I have fished after sundown on many full moon nights and I think the catching is just as hard when the moon is high and bright after and below daylight. We went this morning and caught 12 fish in a couple of hours so don’t ever assume anything in fishing.
With the past week’s full moon, the bass have been active all night, in the mornings, during active feeding times and Buford Dam generation periods and again at sundown. That means anytime you can get on the water is a great time to fish and catch!
We have been starting our days both in the ditches and also small points on the bluff walls. Deep diving crank baits have worked to pick off the fish that are close to the steeper rocks and drop offs. Try using a SPRO Little John DD70, which will max out at 15 to 20 feet deep. Make long casts parallel to drop offs and dig your lure as deep as you can get. The crankbait has been producing fewer but larger bites.
When the bass won’t eat crank baits, try working small crawfish imitators. Small, ¼-ounce jigs or a 1/4th-ounce stand up jig head rigged with a Big Bites Yo Momma or Fighting Frog with the claws dipped in orange JJ’s Magic. Cast these offerings up shallow, and allow them to fall slowly down the rocks. Most hits will occur either on the shallow sides or from the bottom of the drops.
Using and understanding your Lowrance or other brands of electronics is critical to catching deep fish on Lake Lanier. Teaching modern electronics and how to read them has become one of the most popular trips I perform in winter. The anglers I join in their boats to tune up electronics come in all ages and experience rates. These tend not to be return customers, but I often see them again at work, on the lake or at tournaments. These clients can usually gather enough knowledge to take it and run with it. Email me if you wish to book a trip!
Some master anglers are probing the timberlines during the day. With the quality of electronics and the bigger screens, you can often find fish suspended within or at the bottom of standing timber. Remember that the majority of the trees were topped out at 35-feet, so knowing that will give you an idea of where to look. Timberlines that lead into the ditches can hold the motherload of fish, and these are the fish other anglers are missing. You can tempt these timber fish into biting with a spoon or a Lanier Baits Fruity Worm on a drop shot rig.
Striper fishing is decent, and the fish continue to be scattered. There are a lot migrating both north into the rivers as well as down south where the stripers move up into the creeks. We have seen fish, loons and gulls surfacing as the crush shad out over the ditches and in the pockets early in the day.
Once you locate fish on your Lowrance Electronics early in the day, set out a spread of two down lines and the rest on flat lines or planner boards. Set out a spread of medium-sized minnows along with a lively herring or trout.
The flat lines seem to be best early in the day, and the down lines seem to the most productive as the sun gets up in the sky. Let your electronics show what depth the fish and bait are located, and match that depth with your flat lines or down lines.
Pulling one or two Captain Mack’s Mini Rigs continues to be a productive method, so use these to cover water and to catch fish. Run your rigs from 1 to 2 mph.
Crappie fishing has been up and down. Successful perch jerkers in the winter are usually anglers who are adept at placing their minnows or jigs up under productive docks.
Look for slightly stained water, and start your search there. The stained water contains more nutrients, and that is where the bait and crappie will group up. Locate docks in these same areas, and fish the ones that have brush, beaver hutches or timber edges.
Bank Fishing: Because the stripers are moving into the pockets, they present bank anglers with a great opportunity to cast lures and live bait from the shore.
Grab a couple dozen medium to large shiners. Make sure your reels are rugged with fresh 10 to 14-pound test monofilament. You can cast Bomber Long A’s, Redfins or a SPRO Bucktail while deploying live bait rigs.
Then set out a bottom rig (basically a Carolina Rig or a hook with a leader tied to a swivel with a large sliding barrel weight rigged on your main line) and rig another rod with a slip bobber with depth set to 10 feet deep. Secure you live bait rods in a good rod holder and wait!
Eric Aldrich is an outdoor writer, marketing specialist, guide and bass angler. He is currently booking teaching trips for Lake Lanier’s spotted and largemouth bass. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Remember to take a kid fishing!