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Lake Lanier Fishing Report: Cloudy days bring strong striper bite
Eric Aldrich
Local bass angler Eric Aldrich poses with a fish he caught. - photo by For The Times

Lake Lanier’s water level is up again this week at 1,065.80, or 5.20 feet below our normal full pool of 1,071. Surface temperatures are in the low 50s. 

The main lake and creeks mouths are clear. In my opinion, the winter lake turnover is almost complete. The creeks, pockets and rivers are slightly stained from recent rains, while the Chattahoochee River is stained from rain runoff. Check generation schedules before heading out to the river by calling 770-945-1466.

I want to wish all of my readers a Merry Christmas and blessings this holiday season!

Bass fishing has taken a turn for the better, and the ditch bite has really started to turn on. The main lake ditches seem to be holding bigger bass, but don’t ignore the ditches and creek channels located from midway on back into the creeks.

Start out early in the day fishing a SPRO Little John DD around rocks in the backs of the ditches. An underspin with a Big Bites Suicide Shad will also work well in these same areas. Try to get your lures down to where they make contact with the rocks, and continue to fish shallow until the fish quit biting. The active shallow bite can occur well into the day, especially during cloudy weather.

After the shallow bite wanes, get out your worms and jigs to drag them around the ditch edges and drop-offs from 25 to 45 feet deep. Your bottom-bumping lures mimic crawdads, and this is an awesome way to catch both size and numbers of bass. My go-to bait has been a Big Bites Rojas Fighting Frog on a ¼- to ⅝-ounce, stand-up jig head.

Other techniques will work well on Lake Lanier in the winter. Casting jerk baits like a McStick or McRip to windy points can produce some magnum spotted bass. Jigging spoons worked just off the bottom in the deeper parts of the ditches and along timber lines continue to score some good bites.

Striper fishing has been on-and-off, but overall it’s good. 

The cloudy days will really activate the bite, so if you can find the fish, you should do well. I have seen large schools of stripers from the creek mouths all the way into the backs of the creeks and coves this week.

The same methods as last week continue to produce fish. Using live bait on flat or down lines, and pulling umbrella rigs, have been the go-to methods of late. My Humminbird Graphs are finding most of the fish from 25 to 40 feet down during the day. 

You may also encounter stripers schooling on the surface during active periods.

Medium shiners, blueback herring and small- to medium-sized trout are all working well. Rig your live baits on a No. 2 or No. 4 Gamakatsu Octopus hook, looping these baitfish through the lips for a more natural presentation. 

I like to use 20-pound Sunline Natural Monofilament with a 12-pound test leader of Sunline Sniper Fluorocarbon. The monofilament mainline has a fair amount of stretch, which will allow you to subdue a big fish, while the lighter leader provides an almost invisible link between your hook and mainline.

If you prefer to use artificial lures instead of live bait, try threading a Big Bites Suicide shad on a ½-ounce SPRO Bucktail and make casts around the birds or any schooling fish you encounter. Let your buck tail sink about 10 to 15 feet before engaging your reel. Be aware that stripers often eat lures on the fall, so be ready to set the hook if you see your line jump while descending.

Crappie fishing remains good for those dedicated cold- and deep-water anglers. 

Not a lot has changed except that the crappie may be slightly shallower this week. Shoot jigs around docks, dissect the brush piles or try live minnows or shad on a small Aberdeen hook on down lines around docks with brush from 15 to 25 feet deep.

Trout fishing is good both below Buford Dam as well as up in the North Georgia mountains. The Chattahoochee River has started to clear, so look for the fishing below Buford Dam to improve greatly.

Wet flies are working well, and a Bead Head Fly or Wooley Bugger have both been good choices for fly anglers. Live earthworms on a small hook with a split shot placed a couple feet ahead of it have been scoring some limits. Just make sure your local regulations allow the use of live bait where you’re fishing.

Bank Fishing: You can target a number of species of fish from the banks of Lake Lanier in the winter around bridges. 

Bass, crappie, stripers and catfish are all accessible around bridges that cross over Lake Lanier and its feeder creeks and rivers.

Artificial lures like plastic worms and jigs are a great choice to target bass around riprap bank or bridge pilings. Live minnows or small jigs cast to the deeper pilings will work for crappie and brim. Stripers and catfish are suckers for live or cut shad fished on the bottom in the deeper parts of the creek and river channels running underneath these man-made structures.

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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