Water Conditions: Lake Lanier has received a huge amount of rain run off this past week and at the time of this writing has risen over 3.3 feet this past week. The current level is at 1,074.03 feet, or 3.04 feet above the normal full pool of 1,071 feet. We should expect that level to rise even more before it tops out. Lake surface temperatures remain around 50 degrees.
Please Note: Be on the watch for floating debris all over the lake. There’s a lot of stuff floating around on the surface due to this week’s heavy inflow of water. Dock floats, trees and other debris have become dislodged from the banks due to the rapidly rising water levels.
The main lake and lower lake creeks are slightly stained in mouths and very stained to muddy in the backs. The upper lake creeks and rivers are very stained to muddy due to the rains. The Chattahoochee River below Buford Dam will probably be generating water all day long, so check generation schedules before heading out to the river below Buford Dam at 770-945-1466.
Bass: Conditions have changed drastically from the past week and two words explain it best: water inflow. When the lake rises as quickly as it did this week, we can expect worms, crickets and other terrestrials to get washed into the lake. That doesn’t mean that all the bass will suddenly move into shallow water. The bass will react, and you may find them very shallow or in the same deep water that they occupied before the heavy rains.
We have found the fish to be shallower but they are still relating to the ditches. These “bass highways” provide fish with a clear route that they can use to move up shallower and back out deep without expending too much energy. It is my theory that when it rains, small insects and worms get washed into the lake where crawfish, bait fish, brim, crappie and bass can score an easy meal.
Fishing in the rain is not for everybody, but the bass have been biting well for those anglers braving the rain. We found some decent fish less than 25 feet deep that have been feasting on crawfish. Often the fish we have boated have been spitting out crawfish plus we have also looked down their throats and seen claws and antenna sticking out. The majority of these bass are being fooled with a jig and that is probably because jigs mimic crawfish.
Another good thing to try is a deep diving crankbait around steep rocky banks. Cast your crankbait baits parallel to the shore so you can make your lure dig into the bottom. A SPRO Bucktail fished in these same areas and depths is also a great choice for fooling bass. Try bucktails in colors like red, chrome gold, zucchini or other crawfish colors. Attach a Big Bites Battle Bug or Swimmin’ Craw and reel them very slow so that they make contact with the rocky bottom.
There are still plenty of deep fish too. Use your Lowrance Electronics and zoom the view so that you can see the sides of the ditches. With Structure Scan and Down Scan, you will often see small white dots that indicate fish. When you see these dots, move in over the fish with your units traditional 2D mode. When you see arcs or lines that indicate fish, get out your drop shot or jigging spoon and drop these lures down to where you see fish on your fish finders.
Smaller offerings like a 1/8-ounce drop shot weight and a No. 1 Gamakatsu Aberdeen hook rigged with Lanier Bait’s Grunt or a Big Bite Bait’s Limit Maker have been producing better than regular sized worms have this winter. The jigging spoon bite has also followed the same pattern, so try a smaller, ½-ounce Flex-It style.
If the weather stays warmer than usual, try casting a shaky head or a shallow to medium running crank bait. Fish the docks in the shallower coves just off the main lake. Bass will gravitate to shallow water when they sense warmer than normal weather patterns
Striper fishing has been a little tougher than usual. That is mostly due to lake conditions more than to how the fish are biting. There is a lot of trash on the lake surface, meaning that anglers will struggle with having to clear their lines up every 10 minutes or more. Leaves, pine straw and other debris are floating all over the lake. Just be aware of that, and you should be able to catch a few.
Medium shiners, small herring and smaller trout seem to be catching the most fish, but try setting out at least one larger bait to entice a bigger fish to bite. Lager baits will also work better in off colored water because they displace more water. Stripers are able to “feel” other fish, including the baitfish that they feed on through their lateral lines, so bigger bait tends to get noticed better by a hungry fish.
There are some mud lines setting up all over the lake. A mud line is simply where muddy water meets clearer water. If you can find a defined area where chocolate colored water meets clear or slightly stained water, then that is a great place so set out your lines. Mud lines also form a curtain where baitfish set up. If the baitfish are present, the stripers shouldn’t be too far behind.
The stripers have been shallower this week, and my Lowrance Carbon 16 shows a lot of fish around the 20 to 40-foot range, so set your down lines at this depth and move your baits shallower or deeper based on where you mark fish. While a flatline moves more naturally in the water it may also collect more trash like leaves and pine straw. Down lines will collect less surface junk plus they are easier to clear because your lines descend right next to the boat.
Areas below Browns Bridge — like the mouth of 6-Mile Creek, Flowery Branch, Young Deer and Big Creek on down to the Buford Dam — have held the best water clarity. Look for the gulls, and watch your Lowrance electronics to give away the best areas.
Trout Fishing has been very tough, and most of North Georgia’s trout streams and rivers are high and very stained to muddy. The water will stay that way for a while, but once the rain leaves, it should get a lot better.
It looks like the forecast for next week will be much nicer, but make sure to call ahead to where you plan to fish so you are not disappointed. The water directly below Buford Dam will clear the quickest, but I expect the CORPs will be pulling a lot of water when these rains subside.
Bank fishing: Striper fishing from the banks can be good this time of year. All you need is a long spinning rod and reel with quality 12 to 14-pound line, a slip bobber, some Gamakatsu Octopus Hooks and a sturdy fishing rod holder (you can make a great rod holder from a big PVC) and either live or cut bait (trout will stay lively in a 5-gallon bucket for the day).
Locate a bank area that has deep water close to the shore. It is also great if you can have the wind blowing out into the lake. Set your slip bobber to 10 or 15 feet deep. Hook your bait just under the dorsal fin. Make a long cast, secure your rod and wait. Check your baits if you don’t see them move the bobber around. When your bait gets tired, pull them in and either chum them around the bank that you are fishing or cast them and put them out on a bottom rig.
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 me at firstname.lastname@example.org Remember to take a kid fishing.