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Lake Lanier fishing report: Bass fishing up and down, like the weather
Eric Aldrich
Local bass angler Eric Aldrich poses with a fish he caught. - photo by For The Times

Water Conditions: Lake Lanier remains slightly above normal pool at 1,071.55 feet or .55 feet above full pool of 1,071. Lake surface temperatures are around 50 degrees.

The lake below Browns Bridge remains clear in the in the creek mouths and stained to very stained in the backs of the creeks. The upper lake creeks are stained in the mouths and very stained in the backs, and the rivers are very stained to almost muddy. Check generation schedules before heading out to the river below Buford Dam at 770-945-1466.

Join us for the next free seminar: Come join us at West Marine in Buford, Tuesday, Feb. 26 from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. for a free electronics seminar. Factory reps will be there to help customers with GPS, mapping, finding fish and much more. Call 470-202-1052 for details and directions.

Bass: The B.A.S.S. Elite series tournament has been going on this past week on our home Lake Lanier. Look for these pros to be catching some pretty healthy stringers of fish.

Bass fishing has been up and down, just like our weather. Sunny days seem to be best overall, but expect it to be a bit tougher during the overcast and rainy days next week.

Start your days close to shallow water in the mouths of the ditches and small feeder creeks. The bass have been pushing bait up shallow at sunrise, and they will tend to be active at the start of the day, so you should use this activity time to your advantage.

Cast moving lures like a SPRO McStick, Little John MD, Fish Head Spin or Big Bites Jerk Minnow/Fluke into the shallow places in the ditches. Vary your cadence, and let the fish strikes dictate the best speed at which to fish. On overcast days this action will last longer. On sunny days you can follow the fish out deeper as the sun gets higher in the sky.

The bass are starting to go into pre-spawn mode. Pay attention to the ditches and creek channels. These are “bass highways” that fish use to travel up and down in search of food. The spotted and largemouth bass are feeding on shad, herring and crawfish, so they will hit about any lure that you can get in front of them.

During the day, utilize lures like a jig, shaky head or even the new Ned Rigs. These lures all mimic the smaller crawfish that the bass are concentrating on. The bass have only one thing on their minds. They are feeding up to get as fat as possible before the spawn.

The fish have been more active on the sunny days. Rocky banks have been the key, because shad and crawfish use the warmth absorbed by the rocks. During the warm periods, find wind-blown banks that are exposed to the sun from the front of the pockets on back even shallower. Cast a SPRO Little John MD or DD and crank it through the rocks.

We have started to find some big spots eating after dark. Use the same crank baits or a large Colorado Blade spinner bait and slow roll these lures around rocky points and banks in the pockets. This type of fishing can yield the largest fish of the year. Reel your lures just fast enough to feel the wobble through your rod.

Striper fishing remains good. Utilize your eyes to see gulls feeding and your Lowrance electronics to locate the deeper fish.

The creeks and rivers are the areas to concentrate on, because the stripers are starting to go through the motions of reproduction. They act much like salmon and run into the backs of the rivers and creeks in search of moving water.

Look for the shad and herring, and you should find the stripers. Use both flat lines (lines with just a hook and bait; no weight) and down lines (weighted lines directly below the boat) and let the fish tell you which they prefer. You will often see stripers swirling in the mornings and all day long

Mack Farr spoke about fishing with planner boards at our free seminar at West Marine this week. If you can, use herring, shad or trout on planner boards to get your live bait as close to the bank and as far away from the boat as possible. With planner boards, you can greatly increase your odds, because these allow for a much wider spread and larger coverage of water than just normal flat and down lines that only cover an area as wide as your boat.

The night time Bomber and McStick bite is just getting started. Target areas in the backs of the lower lake creeks. Throw these long, slender baits around lighted boat docks. Reel these lures with a medium slow speed retrieve and hold on. We are just a few weeks until this bite explodes, but right now, two to four fish a night has been the norm.   

Crappie are still being found on the deeper docks into the smaller creeks and pockets. The secret to catching these tasty critters is finding the large schools of crappie up under docks. Use your Structure Scan option to scan up under docks that have brush or laydowns.

Either shoot small 1/16th to 1/32nd-ounce crappie jigs like a Hal Fly or Bobby Garland jig, or try casting a slip bobber baited with a small to medium-sized shad up into the boat slips. Please be considerate of dock owners and remember that we anglers should always be polite ambassadors of the sport.

One method that does not get used on Lake Lanier is called “lake racking” or “spider rigging”. These terms simply mean trolling as many light weight rods as is possible across flat areas from 10 to 20 feet on the flats in the backs of the creeks and pockets. Troll small jigs as slow as possible across flat areas to score multiple fish.

Bank fishing:  This is prime time to start casting Bomber Long A’s, McSticks and Redfins, both from the banks in the backs of the creeks and also from the parks located around Buford Dam.

Make Long casts and retrieve these lures slowly from the bank. As your lure comes in, shallow raise your rod so that they do not get snagged at the end of your cast. Make a few casts and keep moving down the bank. Once you connect with a fish, hang around that same area a fan cast for more action.

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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