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Lake Lanier Fishing Report: Pay attention to your electronics to bring in active stripers
Eric Aldrich
Local bass angler Eric Aldrich poses with a fish he caught. - photo by For The Times

Lake Lanier’s water level fell a little bit and is currently 1,066.16 feet or 4.84 feet below full pool of 1,071.

Hopefully this weekend’s forecasted rain will help a little, but this is still a pretty normal drawdown as the CORPS lets out water to allow for the late winter and early spring rainy season.

Water temperatures are in the mid-to-high 50’s.

The lake is clear on the main lake and clear-to-slightly stained in the rivers and creeks.

The Chattahoochee River continues to show some clearing below Buford Dam as the lake turnover period is all but complete.

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

I am thankful for God, my family and friends, the fish and for all of you who take the time to read these reports.

Happy Thanksgiving and God Bless you all.

Bass fishing has been good, and the fish have started to set up well in the ditches, deeper main lake brush and around transition zones close to steeper bluff walls.

The bass continue to be found both shallow and deep.

We caught bass on everything from topwater plugs fished on the surface to jigging spoons at 35-50 feet deep recently.

The ditch pattern is well known to seasoned bass anglers.

Ditches are the ‘bass highways’ fish use to follow bait from shallow to deep.

One thing I have noticed over the years: Anglers can really get caught up in trying to figure out not only what constitutes a ditch, but how and where to find the best ones.

A ditch is just what it says. It’s a concave or v-shaped cut in the bank that continues to extend underwater into the lake.

Ditches can be as simple as a subtle rain runoff coming from the woods on down to the bank and off into the lake less than 50-feet long, or they can be river or creek channels that wind for miles.

The best ditches, in my opinion are the ones you can only see on a map that extend from the banks well off into the lake.

I prefer the ones with a well-defined V or U-shape with steep sides.

The best ditches usually have a combination of rock, clay, brush piles and/or submerged timber. Many good ones intersect with larger creek channels!

As much as anglers are bombarded with technology, you may often do better by just dropping the trolling motor up shallow and fishing your way out deeper in the cuts or ditches off of the main lake.

Sure, you should keep an eye on your sonar, but you will often visually see clues on the surface that can show you how and where to fish.

If the bait is dimpling on the surface or better yet the fish are schooling, then you may do better just casting and moving.

This week the bass in the morning and toward dark have been chasing shad on the surface.

While most anglers would cast a topwater plug to these fish, subsurface lures have worked better for us.

Cast a SPRO Little John MD, Georgia Blade Spinner Bait or a Lanier Baits Little Swimmer on a Spyhead to pick off active bass.

Stick with these moving baits until the activity slows down.

Check the shallow areas in the ditches throughout the day, as fish will be up eating during water generation and active-feeding periods.

Last week, I mentioned keeping a surface lure ready at all times, but there is one other rod I also keep ready all the time, which is my Kissel Krafts Custom Drop Shot Rod rigged with a Shakin’ Squirrel or Lanier Baits Fruity Worm ready to drop to any fish I see on Forward Scan up front or 2/D below the boat.

I like the tri-colored worms in a combination of pink and blue or red and green. I spool my reel with 16-pound SX1 Sunline Bright Yellow main line with a 10-12-feet, 7-pound Sniper FC Leader attached to a No. 2 straight shank Gamakatsu Hook and a 3/8-ounce dropshot weight.

The bright yellow line allows you to see bites that you may other wise miss and the line leader is almost invisible under water!

Probably our best pattern this week has occurred during the active feeding times or when the weather fronts are blowing through.

We have caught our biggest fish on jerk baits and spinner baits, cast parallel to buff walls in the creeks.

If the fish are there and feeding, it won’t take too long to find out. If you don’t get a bite soon, move on the next productive spot. This is not a numbers technique as you may only get a few bites, but the quality of fish has been better.

Night fishing for bass has been very good and there are very few boats out after dark.

Stick with the two reliable options (A SPRO Little John DD or Georgia Blade Premium Nighttime Spinnerbait) and cast these lures in the same rocky ditches where you caught fish when the sun is out.

Striper fishing remains strong and you can pick your favorite method and go catching.

The stripers are on a few different patterns and we have seen them schooling from the Buford Dam all the way up into the Chattahoochee and Chestatee Rivers.

With the colder temperatures, we have really started to see more and more oceanic birds as they move inland during the winter to take advantage of local bait populations or any other food they can find.

As long as the gulls and loons are not in your local supermarket parking lot or major marinas, then they are probably feeding on shad. Birds dropping into the lake that are diving on shad often give away the best locations. Think of them as God’s gift and free fish finders.

The stripers have been active all day long but remember that these fish can travel miles in a day. While they sometimes seem to be everywhere, they more often can seem to be nowhere.

Find the large schools of baitfish, and the stripers should be close by.

There is only one thing the stripers, bass and aquatic birds have on their minds right now: Eating.

Start your day in the creek mouths and follow the creek channels into the backs of the lower lake creeks.

Watch for birds and surface activity and confirm what you see below on your electronics and fish those areas.

There are also some good fish relating to the river channels from just below Browns Bridge on north into the Chestatee and Chattahoochee rivers.

The same techniques are still working, so pick your preference and have a back-up plan if your first one doesn’t produce.

Pull medium-sized herring or medium shiners on a combination of flat and down lines. While some fish may be up on the surface where unweighted flat lines will work best, some have been 40-70 feet, or deeper, where you will do better to deploy weighted down lines.

Trolling a regular sized or Mini Mack Umbrella Rig in areas with big schools of fish can sometimes out produce live bait.

Troll your offerings shallow when the fish are shallower.

Switch over to lead core or even downriggers when the fish are deep. Run your rigs from 1 1/2 to 2 mph.

Pay close attention to where large flats drop off into creek and river channels.

If you want to miss the crowds and don’t mind the cold late in the day, then get out to the lake an hour or two before sunset and watch the surface for schooling fish or baitfish pods getting blown up on.

The stripers have been schooling out close to the creek and river channels, as the sun gets lower in the sky.

These schooling fish will eat a SPRO Bucktail, McStick, Zero Minnow 130 or you can even cast your Mini Mack to entice a bite from these feeding frenzies.  The fish have been staying up for a while in the right areas.

We have stayed in these same areas after dark.

Move up shallow and cast these same lures mentioned above to banks located close to where we say the fish were schooling when the sun was still out.

If you can’t get out until it gets dark, there are some decent fish around the islands and in the backs of the creeks around lighted boat docks.

Crappie fishing has rated from fair to good.

Your electronics are almost a necessity for catching a meal of slabs for the fryer this week. The crappie seem to be up shallower in the backs of the northern creeks and in the rivers. These fish have been relating to brush, both around docks and close to the ditches in 12-20 feet of water.

Down lake the crappie seem to be deeper, but confirm where you see these fish on your fish finders and keep moving until you get a bite.

Once you get a bite, then stay put and take advantage of many more fish that are probably there.

You can email Eric Aldrich at esaldrich@yahoo.com with comments or questions.

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