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Lake Lanier Fishing Report: Pay attention to gulls and loons to get the most stripers
Eric Aldrich
Local bass angler Eric Aldrich poses with a fish he caught. - photo by For The Times

Lake Lanier’s water level is slightly down from last week at 1,067.27 or 3.73 feet below the normal full pool of 1,071. Water temperatures are in the lower 50’s. The main lake and creeks mouths are clear to slightly stained. The creeks and rivers are slightly stained. 

The Chattahoochee River below Buford Dam is still stained and clearing slowly. Check generation schedules before heading out to the river at 770-945-1466.

Bass fishing has been decent. They are still biting for anglers who are in tune with their electronics. Lake Lanier’s spotted and largemouth are both shallow and deep right now. Pick your strengths and exploit them. We have continued to concentrate on the ditch fishing but there are some good fish relating to rocky shores and docks too.

Utilizing your electronics is an essential part to ditch fishing. My Lowrance Electronics along with Navionics and C-Map mapping applications really come into play both in determining not only where to fish, but also confirming an area has fish once you get there. 

One of the services I often provide is joining other anglers in their boats and teaching them the basics of electronics. Email me if you need help.

Finding ditches is easy, but finding the best ones takes a little work. You can look at the banks or inflows and see ditches or areas where the rain run off enters the lake. Feeder creek and larger creek channels can qualify as a ditch. You can also review your GPS mapping to locate these smaller channels that extend far offshore. The best ditches usually lead out into deeper creek or river channels or out into the timberlines.

Start your day out at sunrise in the shallow part of the ditches that have rock or clay banks. The bass and stripers push bait up shallow at night and they will usually be very active at sunrise. Cast a jerk bait like a SPRO McStick 110 and work it back to the boat, experimenting with what speed and cadence. Sometimes the fish want a jerk-and-pause retrieve or sometimes they want a slow-or-medium steady retrieve. If the fish are present, they will let you know their preference. Make cast both to the side and down the middle or gut of the ditch.

As the day progresses and the sun moves higher in the sky back out away from the banks and target the deep, concave guts in the middle of the ditches. A dropshot rigged with a Lanier Baits Fruity Worm has been deadly. The same brand produces a soft plastic called a Runt and these will work when the bass are feeding on smaller shad. Anglers can also fish a spoon or jig hopped up and down vertically to fish you see on your Lowrance Electronics. Cast a SPRO Buck tail out. Work it back through the ditch, close to the bottom to pick off fish outside the sonar cone on your fish finder. 

There are a lot of crawfish on the banks in late fall. Use a lure that matches them. Rocky banks, long points and humps will hold bass, especially later in the day. Grind a RkCrawler or a crawfish colored. Rapala DD 8 around rocky banks to score a big bite. A jig is also a great choice when the bass are eating crawfish.

Working a Ned Rig or a Jig with a Big Bites Fighting Frog Trailer around docks will produce fish on sunny days. Target docks in 15-25 feet deep. 

A 3-inch Suicide Shad rigged on a Fish Head Spin run down the sides of docks has also been deadly.

Striper fishing remains good and the fish are active and eating. Trust your Lowrance Fish Finders and allow them to show you the best areas to fish. Finding bait is a big part of the equation. If you see gulls diving and loons in the area, then they can also key you in the right direction. Gulls and loons eat herring and shad. When they are working, you can bet the fish are beneath them. If the birds are just flying around or laying still on the water, you can bet the fish are deeper where you need your electronics to work for you. 

Early in the day, the fish have been active in the shallow ditches, cuts and creek channels. Target depths from 15-25 feet early in the day and adjust shallower or deeper to keep up with the fish you see feeding on your electronics. Trolling a Captain Mack’s umbrella rig remains a great way to both scout for and locate stripers.

Down lined herring and medium shiners are producing very well once you get over a big school of fish. 

The channels and deep ditches have been working well for stripers and a bonus green fish too. Drop your lines to where you mark fish. If you are catching a lot of small ones, try dropping a larger offering like a trout down to the bottom of the school. 

This will often result in catching a bigger fish. That being said, those small ones will still eat it too.

Crappie fishing has been hit and miss. The major difference seems to be that the people who are finding fish are the ones having luck. Structure Scan side-imaging has really changed the way we find crappie. If you are scanning docks, pick which side your boat will approach them. Then you can select just the right or left side on Structure Scan to get the image at full screen. Set your side imaging on 50-feet and run down the sides of the docks to locate fish.

Once you locate a dock with fish, shoot a small 1/16-ounce Hal Fly to the back of it and let them pendulum back to the boat. You can also pitch live shiners or crappie minnows on a lightly weighted line and drop it to level where the fish 

are located.

Bank Fishing: I have many memories of catching crawdads in local creeks and on the shores of Lake Lanier when I was young. Fall and early winter are the time that these fresh water lobsters will be last be active until early spring. 

If you can bare the cold water or have waders, then you can flip over stones to find these crustaceans. 

Crawfish are a major source of protein for a variety of fish. 

Bass, catfish and even stripers will add these critters to their menu. If you catch a crawfish, try using it to catch fish. 

If the crawfish is small, hook the crawish through the back. Push the point through the shell so that it will stay hooked when you cast it. You can also remove the tails and use those as bait. Just about anything that lives in Lake Lanier will bite a piece of crawfish tail. Including other crawfish.

I still like to flip over a stone every now and then to determine the size and color so I can match it with my jig lure.

 

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 our readers so email him at esaldrich@yahoo.com Remember to take a kid fishing. 

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