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Lake Lanier Fishing Report: Fish handling cold, windy weather just fine
Eric Aldrich
Local bass angler Eric Aldrich poses with a fish he caught. - photo by For The Times

Water Conditions: Lake Lanier came up to over full pool with the past week’s rains and has come down slightly to 1,070.95 or .05 below the normal full pool of 1,071. Lake surface temperatures are in the low 50s. 

The main lake and lower lake creeks are clear in mouths and stained in the backs. The upper lake and rivers remain stained to very stained. The Chattahoochee below Buford Dam is stained after the rains, but clears a little on sunny days.

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

Bass fishing: Windy, rainy, sunny or cold. What rough days to go fishing, right? Early winter fishing may not be for everyone, but if you are willing dress warm it can be awesome. You also need to know when to move out from the banks in certain conditions and then be willing to fish closer at other times. You may have some of your best fishing of the year. 

The week has been either rocky banks or deeper ditches with rock or clay bottoms. The first clue you should determine is what the bass are praying on. Crawfish or shad? Well, they are kind of clued in to both. It is my theory that bass interested in crawfish may not bite shad (or a spoon), but bass eating shad will often slow down to eat crawfish (or a jig ’n pig or deep running crank bait).

We have been mainly throwing three to four baits in order of preference 1) A Jig ‘n Pig 2) A Deep running crawfish colored crank bait 3) A jerk bait and 4) a Spoon.

Some reports say the spoon bite is on fire. I have been paying less attention to this than I should, but no doubt it’s working. We have caught spotted and largemouth bass, white bass, perch and crappie on the spoons. In winter, bass and other predator fish set up deep from 45-to-55 feet deep or deeper in the middle of the coves and ditches and just hang out waiting for slow moving or dying shad close to the bottom. 

At times, these fish can be ganged up in huge tight schools and you can load the boat. Use your Lowrance Electronics, then drop a half-ounce Flex-it or Hopkins Style spoons to the bottom, reel them up about 6 inches, then pop them up and down. I use heavy 20-pound Sunline Monofiliment for the elastic feel and slow fall and I replace the hooks on my spoons to light wire Gamakatsu Trebles so I can just pull the hooks free from snags.

Cast your jerk baits and crank baits up shallow very early at sunrise in the shallow areas at the ends of the ditches, then pull them out again and hit rocky bluff walls and steeper points on the windy afternoons.

I just cannot put down the jig this week! Even in the wind, the big ones are biting a three quarters of an ounce football jig on the sides of the ditches from 20-to-40 feet deep. With quality fluorocarbon line and a sensitive rod you can really feel those deep bites and they are usually bigger fish. 

Work your jig down the steeper drops in the ditches that have rock. Let a slight bow form in your line so that you can make sure you are dragging bottom. Some of the Drop-offs are deep enough that you may have to click your thumb bar and feed some line back and give the jig some slack. Irregularities along rocky banks, bluff walls and ditch drops will usually be the place to slow down and concentrate on.

Striper fishing has been good and there are a lot of fish moving in shallower, with the water being up more than down. There has been a lot of floating trash like leaves and pine needles that can make pulling baits a little harder than usual. The fish are both shallow in the coves and over deeper water in the coves, creeks and rivers.

Pulling planer boards with medium-sized shiners or shad has been working down lake. Pulling the same baits or trolling Captain Mack’s Umbrella Rigs is also working well up lake. Some stripers can be on the banks, but there are a good number of fish in the middle of shallow coves early and late in the day eating shad. On overcast days they can stay shallow all day long.

At midday, the fish will pull out over deeper water and these fish seem to be keying in more on herring. Later in the day, bait flat lines or down lines with herring or trout out deeper. Watch the gulls and watch your Lowrance Electronics to determine the best depth to fish, but always run a trout on a free line to try and coax a bigger bite.

Trout fishing has been fair to good below Buford Dam and about the same in the mountains. Some of our Northern Most anglers have been catching trout On Wooley Bugger and small salmon egg imitators. Expect similar flies and also a small steamer pattern to mimic dead and wounded shad. Try casting small colorful Mepps and Rooster Tail Spinners in the mountain streams and also below the Dam.

Take a small Count Down Rapala Sinking lure or small Pinns Minnow and cast these upstream, then work them back down stream with a jerk and pause retrieve. Target the biggest rocks in the rivers for some bigger than average fish this time of year

Bank fishing: Just as bass anglers can stare step jigs down steeper Drop-offs, anglers can also work these same jigs and also jerk baits along steep, rocky banks from the shore both in ponds, rivers and Lake Lanier. The jig can be a little tougher to finesse up through the rocks, but an angler can make it work well and catch some big bass in winter.

Casting a jerk bait can be extremely effective from the shore. Plus, you have one distinct advantage. If a fish follows your bait towards the bank, he may hang around instead of being pulled away from the bank only to disappear over deeper water. Cast the jerk bait straight out as deep as possible and work it with a jerk. Pause and retrieve. Vary your cadence until you get dialed in to what the fish want.


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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