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Lake Lanier Fishing Report: Most lures, methods working in early spring
Eric Aldrich
Local bass angler Eric Aldrich poses with a fish he caught. - photo by For The Times

Lake Lanier’s water level remains almost full pool and is at 1,070.73, or .27 feet below the normal full pool of 1,071. Lake surface temperatures are in the mid- to upper-50s. 

The main lake and creeks mouths are clear to slightly stained. The creeks, pockets and rivers are everywhere from clear to very stained. We are starting to see pollen on the surface in the coves.

The Chattahoochee River below Buford Dam is clear. Check generation schedules before heading out to the river by calling 770-945-1466.

Bass fishing: I was always told that when the dogwoods start blooming, it’s time to go fishing. 

I now know the best time to go fishing is any time you can go, but the age-old saying is true. I do know that when the dogwoods are blooming, it’s the best time of year to fish the way you prefer to fish.

Pick your favorite lure, and it will probably work this week. Crank Baits fished around rocky banks or other cover like brush and docks, spinner baits worked around main lake and secondary points, Texas or Carolina Rigs cast to shallow ditches, jig head worms or whacky rigs used around docks — You name it, and it should work if you are around the fish.

If you want to catch a number of bass, it’s hard to beat a green/red flake Big Bites finesse worm rigged on a ⅛-ounce Gamakatsu Alien Head. Cast your shaky head on light 5- to 8-pound test and dip them in some chartreuse JJ’s Magic. You can skip them under docks or just work them down the sides. About half of your strikes will occur as the worm falls, so watch your line closely.

Another great lure has been a medium-diving crank bait. I use either a SPRO Little John MD 50 or a Little John DD 60 in clear chartreuse. These lures run from 7 to 12 feet deep, but I like to cast them to rocky banks and start the retrieve at around 3 to 5 feet deep. 

Use a slow-and-steady retrieve so that your crank bait bumps into the bottom and deflects off rocks. If your lure gets hung, just give it some slack and it should just float back up. You’ll know the difference between a strike and getting hung.

Working jerk baits down the sides of docks has produced some bigger fish, so look for the docks leading into coves or smaller creeks. Certain docks can hold large numbers of bass in the spring. Look for docks that are located close to the ditch or feeder creek channels. Isolated docks, older docks with brush or docks that have beaver dens can all be bass magnets.

Striper fishing: The striper are biting well, and this action should continue to heat up as early spring moves along. 

The gulls remain inland and are the best and easiest way to find active fish. Watch for feeding gulls and loons, or watch your electronics before setting out a spread.

Stripers are actually anadromous fish. This means that, like salmon, stripers move from salt water into fresh water to spawn. Years ago, we discovered stripers that were trapped when the lake was impounded actually could live and thrive in fresh water. 

Stripers on Lake Lanier do not naturally reproduce, but they do go through the motions. This means a lot of the striper population will leave main lake to swim up into the rivers or creeks in an attempt to spawn.

This is the time when you may find stripers in extremely shallow water. Spring is also your best chance to catch a true trophy because these fish have been feeding heavily to go through the mating process.

Several methods are working. If you like to cast artificial lures or even fly fish, then it’s a great time to go. You can often locate stripers shallow feeding on the surface, but most of the time it may be best to run-and-gun secondary points and ditch or feeder creek channels in shallow coves.

The go-to method has been pulling flat lines and planner boards. Medium shiner or smaller herring are working best. Try a bigger gizzard shad or trout on one of your center flat lines and feed it back farther behind your boat.

Set your outside planner board to run the bait very shallow, which is where some stripers are located this week, and run your baits as close to the shore as possible. Very few things are as exciting as seeing a large fish explode on a bait in fewer than 5 feet of water. That will wake you up better than a stiff cup of coffee.

Trolling Captain Mack’s Umbrella Rigs has been working OK back in the creeks and out in the mouths of smaller feeder creeks. The Bomber/McStick/Redfin bite continues to be good around the lighted docks in the creeks and down around the dam.

Crappie fishing: Crappie are biting a variety of lures. I know I sound like a broken record, but pick your favorite style of fishing and go fill your cooler. 

The fish are shallow, and most are in fewer than 15 feet of water. Many are close to the banks where they are easy to catch.

Long-line trolling, or “lake raking,” continues to produce well. Even though most of the crappie are in fewer than 12 feet, they may suspended out over 20 to 30 feet, so trolling is an awesome way to catch the tasty fish.

You can also catch crappie around the bridge pilings in the backs of the creeks. Use small crappie jigs or minnows under a bobber around the riprap.

Trout fishing is very good. The DNR continues to stock the Chattahoochee below and above Lake Lanier, along with many streams, rivers and lakes in North Georgia. As long as storms have not muddied the water and it’s clear, they should be biting.

Pick your favorite method and go fishing. Try dry Flies, inline spinners, tiny crank baits and live worms or corn (where live bait is permitted). 

Just remember the basics: Trout will relate to current breaks. The biggest fish will occupy the best current breaks.

Bank fishing: There is something therapeutic about fishing with a bobber. Hardcore bass anglers may give me a hard time, but I still love to get away and fish live bait under a float.

When you cast a bobber into the right location, your heart beats slightly faster with anticipation. The bobber lies motionless for a minute or two. Just as you are getting ready to retrieve and recast it, you see some small ripples and a slight movement around your float. Suddenly, the bobber disappears and you set the hook!

Right now, you can easily catch bass, brim and crappie under a bobber. Dig up a can full of worms from your backyard or go buy some worms, crickets or minnows from your local bait shop. 

Rig a small Aberdeen-style hook about 2 to 3 feet below your bobber. I like the castable bobbers that have lead in them. You can also put a small split shot about 6 inches above the hook.

Look for objects along the banks like large rocks, tree laydowns or transition areas where rock meets clay or sand. These areas attract fish and offer anglers the best opportunity to catch them. Don’t be afraid to move. If you go fishless for more than a half an hour, move down the bank.

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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