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Lake Lanier Fishing Report: Hungry stripers are biting well
Eric Aldrich
Local bass angler Eric Aldrich poses with a fish he caught. - photo by For The Times

Lake Lanier’s current level almost stalled the past week at around 1,069.77 feet or 1.23 feet below the normal level of 1,071 feet. 

If we receive hard rain, then water levels may increase. 

Lake surface temperatures this past week ranged from mid-40’s to low’s 50’s.  

The main lake is clear to stained. 

Lower lake creeks range from clear to stained. They will likely turn muddy in areas with the rain forecast for the weekend. 

The rivers above Browns Bridge are slightly stained, but expect them to turn muddy to the north with any hard or sustained rain.

The Chattahoochee River below Burford dam is clear. 

After the rain, it will probably turn stained and water clarity will decrease quickly the further it flows southward. 

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

Bass fishing has been consistent. 

Consistency, in this case, means it has been constantly tough for most and constantly great for a few. 

Unfortunately, I am in the ‘tough’ crowd. 

That will change eventually. 

Saturday’s BFL Tournament would be a great start. 

Remember, fishing in late winter can change quicker than my dog’s mood when he spots a squirrel. 

Look for fish to be shallow, deep and everywhere inbetween. 

You will probably have to work for your bites. 

Keep moving, but slow down when you catch a bass and really work that area. 

Keep an open mind, stay positive, trust your graphs and try different things. 

Fishing success pays dividends more valuable than gold. 

The incoming rain will probably change fishing styles, but not necessarily the areas where the fish are located. 

Start your day checking transition zones. 

Look around areas with quick depth changes that lead into the creeks and large pockets off the main lake. 

Fish rocky banks or bottom structure where the rock changes to clay. 

Some other productive areas include brush piles or rocks that are located around long ditches that run through large lake pockets. 

The fish tend to move around more and swim shallower early and late in the daylight hours. 

Fish a craw or shad colored SPRO RkCrawler crankbait that runs deep enough reach the bottom. 

Work these lures as slow as you can while still feeling the wobble. 

Most bites have felt like weight on the line or a mushy snag. 

Keep reeling and let the rod bow slightly before setting the hook. 

Strikes will be easier to detect during periods of active feeding. 

These feeding windows may not last long, but they can occur longer or all day long, especially after two or more days of stable warm weather. 

The fish will also strike harder the closer you place lures into their ambush zone. 

I always employ my eight-foot Kissel Krafts Custom Bait Casting Rod when fishing crank baits. 

It has a parabolic bend and a medium action, which improves casting distance as well as hook up ratios. 

Spool your reels with 10-pound Sunline Fluorocarbon.

We have been doing better, dragging a jig on deeper ledges or steeper banks during overcast or moving weather fronts. 

During these fronts, most fish move deeper and further away from the banks. 

During hard rain target the middle of the pockets or steeper bluff walls or other deeper places where you mark fish or shad on your graph. 

Bass fishing has been very good after the sunsets. 

A SPRO RkCrawler will score bites from big fish around rocky banks or dock lights.

Striper fishing has been good. 

Lake Lanier’s water quality is good. The fish are fat and the stripers are feeding heavily. 

Like bass, stripers are both shallow and deep this week. They usually move shallow during low light conditions or overcast days and deeper on bright sunny days. Of course, exceptions frequently occur but understanding details will shorten our hunt and propel our fun. 

The past week’s weather has not affected Lake Lanier’s striper population much, but expect changes to occur if heavy rain inflow muddies the waters. 

Cold, muddy water is not the place to be on Lake Lanier, but don’t move too far. 

Areas where two different water clarities meet are often magnets for predator fish. 

Examples include seams where muddy rain inflow meets the clear lake water to form a distinct mudline. 

Rain can also cause warm water inflow from rivers, creeks and ditches where it meets the colder, clearer main lake (and vice versa). 

When both of these conditions occur at the same place time, it pays to be there.

Rain water inflow also washes soil, microorganisms, insects, worms and even small animals into the lake. 

Every fish from tiny to huge rely on these conditions to feed at some time or another. 

Other predators like aquatic birds and animals also benefit from areas with distinct water changes. 

Anglers who pay attention to these clues will be more successful.  

The stripers are still relating to the large shad schools from 30-60 feet deep on the main lake and in the creek and river mouths. 

As long as the water clarity is only stained, this should remain a viable pattern. 

Find the bait fish and stripers and deploy down lines to the level where you mark activity.

Get out after dark. The stripers are biting! 

The pattern remains the same. Fish the creeks around lighted boat docks or run the green fishing lights where they are glowing. 

Get out before the sun sets and look for areas without muddy water or areas with mudlines. 

The SPRO McStick seems to produce the best when fish can see better in clear water and around lights. 

Bombers have been better in stained water. 

Crappie: I get many conflicting reports but there seems to be a theme. 

Up lake the crappie are reported to be shallower in stained water around docks with brush. 

The further you go south into clearer water, the deeper you should fish. 

Fish the same type of areas, but add the bridges after dark into your plan. 

Target zones from 5-10 feet up lake and 12-20 feet down lake, but be willing to make adjustments. 

Shoot small crappie jigs or cast minnows under a deep-slip float and allow either technique to get down and into the brush. 

Crappie will move up shallower after dark.

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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