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Lake Lanier Fishing Report: Crappie fishing most productive around docks
Eric Aldrich
Local bass angler Eric Aldrich poses with a fish he caught. - photo by For The Times

Lake Lanier’s water level took a big jump upward and levels are still rising as this report is being written. 

The lake level 1,067.88 or 3.12 feet below our normal full pool of 1,071. Lake surface temperatures are still in the high 40s. The main lake and creeks mouths are clear to stained. The creeks, pockets and rivers are slightly stained to very stained from the recent rain inflows. The Chattahoochee River is clear. Check generation schedules before heading out to the river at 770-945-1466.

Bass fishing has still been slow and most anglers have been struggling. The bass are lethargic from the cold water temperatures. The good news is we have nowhere to go but up. Recent rain inflows should help fishing. 

In spring, hard rains will wash nutrient-rich water into the lake. This water is usually a few degrees warmer than the colder lake water. These two factors will attract bait fish and the predator fish that target them. Look for the mud lines where the stained rain inflow meets with the clearer lake water. 

These mudlines are excellent places to target bass.

Keep following those ditch and creek channels to locate bass. Once you determine the depth at which fish are located and catch a few, you should be able to duplicate the same pattern in other areas around the lake. We have been catching fish close to the ditch dropoffs from 20-40 feet this week. On sunny days, bass may move much shallower in closer to docks and banks where they can target eating bait fish and crawfish. 

Bottom-bumping lures seem to be working best. Jigs, finesse worms on a jig-head or even a dropshot rig have all been worth a try. A combination of casting and stair-stepping jigs down the drops and watching your electronics for video game fishing have been working to score a few keepers. 

Bass will go through active and inactive times of the day. Sunrise, dam generations schedules and moon phases are all worth paying attention to. During these active periods, try casting moving lures. Jerk baits, crank baits or small swimbait on an underspin are all good choices when the bass are actively feeding. Target the shallow areas where ditches meet the bank early in the day. Target docks close to ditch, creeks and steeper banks on sunny days. 

Striper fishing has improved just slightly and the fish are on the move. Determining the bait that the stripers are targeting will help you choose which method will work best. Stripers that are keyed in on shallow shad and will tend to stay in the area for a while. 

Stripers that are eating blueback herring tend to move around quickly. They can be harder to target.

Stripers may be found shallow early in the day and also on overcast days. If you locate stripers feeding shallow, then set out a spread of flat lines and planner boards with medium shiners hooked through the lips with a No. 2 Gamakatsu Octopus Hooks. Move just fast enough to keep your planner boards out to the left and righthand side or your boat. Some of these stripers can be very shallow against the bank and this is where your planner boards will give you an advantage. Run your baits shallow on steeper banks and across shallow points and humps.

There have also been some stripers schooling out in the creek mouths and also around main lake humps near the creek and river channels. The schools have been relating to rock, brush and timber close to the current breaks. These main lake stripers can be feeding on herring, which means they will move around pretty quickly. Feeding gulls will give away the best locations but you will also need your Humminbird Electronics to give away the deeper schools of fish. 

The best way to target stripers feeding on herring may be to pull umbrella rigs. Pull a Captain Mack’s Umbrella Rig with buck tails at around 2 miles an hour in the areas is hard to beat. Trolling will allow anglers to keep up with these actively feeding fish. 

In some instances, there will be enough fish in an area to set out your flat lines, planner boards and down lines. You can often move along the drop-offs with your live bait lines rigged with herring and trout. Experiment with your depths and let the fish strikes tell you the best depth to set you lines at. Because these fish are moving, it pays to keep both a flat and down line at all times.

Crappie: The crappie are starting to school around the docks and also in the backs of the creeks close to the channel breaks. Your Humminbird Electronics are key tools to locate these slabs. Side Imaging is essential as it can key you into fish that you would normally miss with standard two-dimensional or down imaging.

Once you locate fish, pay close attention to the depth where the fish are located. Three methods can be used to catch a limit of these tasty fish. Live bait on down lines, shooting or casting crappie jigs or trolling using multiple rods with crappie jigs.

Live bait is one of the easiest methods for catching crappie. The main thing is that you must be around fish. Even the prettiest offering will be ignored if you are fishing out in the middle of nowhere. Once you locate crappie, then use light line and a small crappie minnow or shad with a small 1/8-ounce spilt-shot weight placed a foot above your hook. You can use a drop-shot rig, too. Hook your baitfish in the mouth to provide the most natural presentation. 

Shooting or casting jigs around and under docks is the preferred method of experienced ‘perch jerkers’. You can learn a lot about this method from YouTube, or better yet, hire an experienced guide to show you these methods in person.

Trolling or ‘lake raking’ is an awesome way to catch crappie. You will need 4-12 or more rod holders on your boat. Rig your light spinning reels with 2-6 pound test. I like to put two jigs on the line at the same time. Vary your colors when you first set out then switch over to the most productive colors, once you determine what colors the fish prefer. Troll your jigs slowly from 1-2 mph.

Trout fishing remains good. The recent rains may cloud local trout waters, but the streams and rivers will clear quickly. With the rain inflows, look for baits like worms and other terrestrials to work well.

Live bait anglers continue to score limits of trout on live earthworms and other live bait offerings. Fish these live baits on light line and use a light 1/8-¼ ounce split-shot rigged a foot or two above your hook. These live bait offerings work best when fished below the rapids in deeper pools below them.

Wet flies continue to be your best bet, except when you encounter afternoon hatches. Then you may do well to switch over to dry flies.

Bank Fishing: Bank anglers continue to show us that fish can be caught shallow year-round. Grab you light bass spinning tackle and use a 1/8-ounce Gamakatsu Alien Head with a Big Bites Finesse Worm and work the docks, lay downs and rocky banks on Lake Lanier and also your local pond to catch bass in the shallows during winter.


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

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