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Lake Lanier Fishing Report: Target deeper water to bring in the most bass
Eric Aldrich
Local bass angler Eric Aldrich poses with a fish he caught. - photo by For The Times

Lake Lanier’s water level continues to fluctuate as the CORP continues to keep water levels drawn down to winter pool. 

Lake Lanier’s water level is 1,068.67 feet or 2.33 feet below a full pool of 1,071. 

Lake Lanier’s surface temperatures are around 50 degrees with some small areas that may be a degree or two warmer or cooler in smaller pockets. 

The lake is clear on main lake and in the mouths of the creeks and clear to stained and even muddy in the backs of the creeks and rivers. 

The Chattahoochee River is clear below Buford Dam. 

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

Bass: The majority of Lake Lanier’s bass have moved deeper into their winter locations. 

This is a good thing because as the bass move deeper they become more predictable where anglers can consistently target them. 

Fishing deep takes some time and patience. 

Quality electronics are almost a requirement when fish move out into 35-60 feet of water.

Many anglers are intimidated by fishing deep. 

For some people, fishing in 25 feet of water is deep. 

I have caught bass in a 100 feet of water. Deep for bass fishing on Lake Lanier is usually less than 60 feet. 

Most anglers can cast farther than 60 feet, so it’s really not that deep.

During winter, I spend a lot of time staring at the screen of my Lowrance Carbon16 looking for deep schools of spotted bass. 

I keep display set up in split screen mode showing GPS and sonar. 

GPS allows me to physically see where my boat is positioned and standard 2/D sonar helps me see fish, schools of baitfish and even my lure directly under the boat. 

If you have forward imaging, set it to scan 100 feet.

That should allow you to see fish in front of the boat, but not too far. 

Most of the time, you will be watching regular 2/D directly below the boat.

Using sonar is an essential part of fishing deep. 

To some, it may seem more like playing a ‘video game’ than it does fishing. 

With this technology, you will be able watch as the lure drops down and a fish rises to intercept it before it even hits bottom. 

More often, you will need to let your lure hit bottom, then either shake it in the case of a dropshot or Damiki Rig or jig it up and down just off the bottom with a jigging spoon.

Watch your sonar and try to feel the bite. 

You can also see them strike on the screen, especially if you are using Live because with this newer technology, you can see the fish moving around in real time over the entire screen. 

If you are using standard 2/D or Down Imaging everything, you see moving to the left of the screen is history.

Right now, we are targeting areas where the ditches intersect the timberlines in 35-55 feet of water. 

These fish will move shallow during active feeding times, like morning and evening as well as dam generation. 

These locations still follow my rule of being ‘fish highways’ because bass will move from shallow to deep as they the ditch depressions as well as follow the timberlines out deeper. 

During the day, especially on bluebird skies, bass will hang around these timberlines on the bottom. 

The bass also use standing timber as an ambush points where they can move from deep to shallow and back again as they pick off bait.

Start your days in the shallow guts of the timber and cast moving lures, like a SPRO McRip 90 or Little John DD. 

Fish these lures slow and steady early or later in the day. 

As the sun goes over the horizon, use your electronics to locate baitfish schools and the bass that are targeting them in the ditches and around the standing timber. 

Most of the time the bass will be close to the bottom but they can also suspend in the timber, too. 

Use a lure that has some weight and pay attention to how the bass react to your lures and where your bites occur.

Several lures will work to catch deep fish on the timberlines or in the ditches. 

If you are using standard 2/D position, your boat directly over the areas where you mark bait or fish. 

If you are using forward-scan technology, you will be scanning an area slightly in front of the boat. 

Use heavier lures that will drop down to the bottom quickly.  

A few examples of good lures to try are a standard Jig N Pig, jigging spoon, SPRO Bucktail, Damiki Rig or a dropshot to get down in front of these deep fish. 

Usually, when you catch one bass, stay in that area as there should be more around, some times lots more.

Anglers should never forget that there will always be some bass that live shallow. 

If you just can’t stand fishing deep, then try fishing docks that are located somewhere along the ditch depressions. 

Use a deep diving crank bait, Jig or a Fruity Worm on a 3/8th-ounce Gamakatsi Alien Head jig head.

Striper fishing has been good and these fish can be caught at all levels. 

Stripers are a cold-water fish and all they have on their minds is eating. These hard-fighting fish spend 99% of their time in the colder months following baitfish. 

For the most part, stripers seem to like clear water, but they will move into some of the shallower stained water if the bait is present. 

Use your electronics and look for large schools of herring and shad that congregate in the creeks and in the rivers in the winter.  

When you see seagulls and loons diving on bait, you can tell you are in the best areas. 

Both flat lines and down lines have been working about the same. 

If the gulls and loons are active, drag flat lines and lines by themselves or on planer boards lines around the areas where you see birds diving or where you mark fish on your electronics. 

When you see wavy lines or arches that indicate fish, drop a downline right to or just above the level where you are marking fish on your electronics. 

Stripers will move up to strike a line, but they seldom dive down to eat your baits.

Trolling with umbrella rigs continues to be staple for covering water and catching fish. 

Troll your rigs at around 2 mph. 

This technique has been deadly when the stripers are eating smaller shad. It can actually outproduce live bait at times.

You can actually cast the smaller A-rig version of umbrella rigs to active fish or let them fall down to the level where you mark stripers. 

Anglers should keep a rod rigged with an A-Rig or try a bucktail or jigging spoon. 

Keep these rods ready to cast to any fish you see breaking the surface. 

Cast your A-Rigs or lures out, then reel them slow and steady through the fish. 

Occasionally you may want to impart an occasional jerk of the rod to trigger strikes. 

Crappie fishing has been tough, but anglers can still catch them right now. 

The crappie are ganged up in large schools around timber or deep brush piles from 25-50 feet deep. 

If you can locate the right areas boat control and fishing slow are both essential to catching these deeper cold fish. 

Using tiny crappie jigs tipped with a live crappie minnow is very effective. 

You can also use small spoons or a Rapala Ice Minnow Jig on light line to get down to the deeper fish.

You can email Eric Aldrich at with comments or questions.

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