Lake Lanier is still above normal at 1,072.35 feet, or 2.35 feet above the normal full pool of 1,071. Lake surface temperatures are in the mid to upper 40s, but we may see more high 40s with the warmer weather forecast for this weekend.
The water quality on main lake and in the lower lake creeks is good. The lake below Browns Bridge is clear to slightly stained in the creek mouths and very stained in the backs of the creeks. The upper lake creeks and rivers remain almost muddy in the backs to very stained in the creek mouths. The CORPs is still pulling water almost around the clock, except for some rare slack water periods occurring mostly on the weekends. Check generation schedules before heading out to the river below Buford Dam at 770-945-1466.
West Marine in Buford Georgia with be hosting two free seminars. Call 470-202-1052 for details and directions.
Tuesday, February 12, 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. is a free striper and bass fishing seminar. Mack Farr and a full-time bass pro (name to be announced) will be speaking. Come get “schooled.”
Tuesday, February 26, 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. is a free electronics seminar. Factory reps will be there to help customers with GPS, mapping, finding fish and much more.
Bass fishing rates from just OK to good. You should be able to fish your strengths because the fish are biting everywhere from shallow rock, docks, ditches and even out deep around submerged timber lines.
Start your days fishing the shallow, rocky guts around the clearer ditches down lake. We have also been targeting steep, rocky bluff walls. Cast a jig, shaky head or a moving lure like a SPRO McStick or Fish Head Spin around these shallow, rocky banks.
Rock holds heat, and bass are drawn to the warmest water they can find in winter. Lake Lanier also has a large population of crayfish/crawdads. These fresh water lobsters supply bass with a tasty, protein packed meal. Lures like a jig or creature bait mimic the look and action of a crawdad.
Drag your jigs or shaky heads slowly through the rocks. Sometimes bass will suck in a lure, and the bite can be hard to detect. With my Kissel Kraft Custom jig rod and Revo Reel spooled with 14-pound Sunline Sniper Fluorocarbon, I can really feel the “thump” or “tick” that indicates a bite. When that happens to you, set the hook hard. The jig bite has been working all day long around shallow rocks and also out deeper where the ditches fall off into deeper water.
The jerk bait bite is just starting to work well. Cast a SPRO McStick 110 shallow early in the day, and just reel it slow and steady. We call this “stupid fishing” because its very easy to do. Just cast it out and reel it in just fast enough to feel the wobble of the lure. You can also impart a jerk, jerk pause to your retrieve.
One of the best patterns this week has been to target sunny, rocky banks that have wind blowing in on them. On a sunny day, you can catch not only numbers of bass but also quality fish, too. Cast a Little John MD or DD or try a SPRO Fat Papa 75 and work these crank baits slowly through the rock. Most bites will occur as your crank bait comes in contact then deflects off the rocks.
Other methods are also producing.
Gamakatsu Alien Jig Heads rigged with a Lanier Baits Fruity Worm or a Big Bite Baits Squirrel Tail. Casting a SPRO McStick 110 to rocky, windblown bluff walls, points and around deeper docks is a great way to catch a big fish. Skipping Jig Heads beside and under docks is a time-tested productive technique. If you can locate the deeper schools of bass at the end of the ditches with you Lowrance Electronics, get out a jigging spoon or drop shot rigs and you may catch 20 fish in a very short time span.
Striper fishing has been pretty good the past week. Because the CORP is pulling so much water, the lake is well oxygenated. Like the bass, you may locate stripers shallow in the pockets or out deeper where the creek and river channels meet.
I keep my eyes peeled open to watch feeding seagulls and my Lowrance Carbon 16 at the console to unlock the secret best areas and depths to fish. I have seen stripers swirling and feeding on shad in the back of mid lake creek pockets early in the day and also on overcast days. On sunny days, the stripers will move out deeper around main lake pockets, ditches and creek channels.
If you see stripers feeding up shallow, set out your flat lines and planner boards and troll your baits slowly, medium shiners, trout, herring and medium sized gizzard shad.
If you can actually see the fish swirling within casting distance, then try this old school trick. Cast a Chrome Shad colored SPRO McStick 115 or a silver and black Bomber Long A. Even though these lures may be bigger than the bait the stripers are eating, they trigger a reaction bite. Use a slow and steady retrieve and hold on.
If it is sunny, then set your Lowrance Carbon units on Structure scan and run areas from midway back in the creeks on out toward the river channel. If you set your display to show 120 feet on each side, then you are scanning a 240-foot-wide area. This will allow you to see bait fish and stripers that many anglers miss with just traditional 2D fish finders.
With a quality graph, you will be able to quickly determine the proper depth to set out your lines. Arrange your flat lines in the back, and position your down lines closer to the front under the sides or your boat. Then you can troll, preferably under 2 mph without getting your lines tangled. If you employ planner boards reverse that order, place your down lines out back and planner boards up front.
I have had a couple of night trips casting Bombers and McSticks recently, but we have only caught a couple of small stripers and some decent spotted bass too. Look for the night time Bomber Bite to start soon if we get any warmer weather.
The crappie are setting up around deeper docks midway back into the smaller creeks. These fish will often school on the first or biggest dock that is close to a drop off or creek channel. If you see an old dock with a beaver hutch, that may be a valuable honey hole. These pesky critters hollow out the Styrofoam floats and build their homes — all at the dock owner’s expense.
Use your Lowrance electronics set on Structure Scan to find schools of crappie. Crappie will often be in schools of 50 or more fish. Shooting these docks is an excellent way to get your small crappie jigs into places that almost no anglers can reach. Shoot your jigs up the back of the dock, close the bail and then watch your line closely as it pendulums down deeper. You will often see a bite before you feel it. Use fluorescent 4 or 6-pound test Sunline, and keep casting as long as the fish are biting. You can often load the cooler by fishing one dock.
Bank fishing: My wife and I are blessed because the Buford Dam Trout Hatchery is located just a few blocks from our home. We can walk to the hatchery or go fishing in the Chattahoochee River in 10 minutes. My regular boat ramp is also a 10-minute drive away. These factors were a major consideration for why we moved here back in the early 90s.
Do you wish you had the same access to the river, lake and the awesome Buford Dam Trout Hatchery? Well there is good news. Everyone has access to walk (or ride a horse if you have one) on almost 10 miles of trails built for the public in 1995. There are several paths where anglers can fish the river.
In addition, the Buford Dam Trout Hatchery is a great place to visit! You can see first hand how the DNR raises trout for anglers in North Georgia. Sometimes they will even let kids feed the fish. The canals are filled with trout that vary in size from 1 inch (hatchlings) to over 30 inches (big brood trout).
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 firstname.lastname@example.org Remember to take a kid fishing.