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Lake Lanier fishing report: Stripers biting both tolled lures and live bait
Eric Aldrich
Local bass angler Eric Aldrich poses with a fish he caught. - photo by For The Times

Water Conditions: Lake Lanier is still above normal at 1,072.89 feet, or 1.89 feet above the normal full pool of 1,071. Lake surface temperatures are in the upper-40s.

The main lake is clearer, and lower lake creeks are slightly stained in mouths and stained in the backs. The upper lake creeks and rivers are very stained. The CORPs has still been pulling some water, but they have been holding off outflow a little for the trout anglers. Check generation schedules before heading out to the river below Buford Dam at 770-945-1466. 

I am offering educational classes on fishing and electronics instruction. $200 a half day and $300 for a full day. Contact me at esaldrich@yahoo.com for more information.

Bass: The bass are biting OK. Some days, we have been catching up to 20 fish and others we have been lucky to catch a five fish limit. You will find them hitting different lures in different places, so pick your strengths and go fishing.

Whether it is overcast or sunny, the one consistent bite seems to be occurring around rocky banks and deeper rocky ledges. If there is brush or other cover in the area, then that is a big plus. Bass like steeper banks in the winter because they can move from shallow to deep easily without expending too much energy.

This past week has been rainy and cold. We have been fishing a lot, but overcast conditions have slowed the action. On overcast days, look for the bass to be shallow in the morning, eating crank baits and other moving lures.

Later on overcast days, the deeper fish will bite jigs and drop shot rigs or shaky head rigs along the ditch edges from 15 to 45 feet. The one plus is that overcast days seem to bring in the bigger bites. If you are fishing for a trophy spotted bass over five pounds, then this may be the time for you to go fishing.

When the sun and wind occur, the crank bait bite has been our go to method. Target rocky banks with artificial rip rap or granite rocks near steep windy banks. Work SPRO Deep Diving crank baits like a Little John DD 70 or a SPRO Little John DD90. I love the SPRO line of cranks baits, which also include the SPRO Fat Papa70 and the RkCrawler Series. These lures vary in how they wobble or how deep they dive, but they cover all of the depths I need. Other brands like Strike King, Bandit, Rapala and other favorites are all worth cranking around these rocky areas.

There are several other patterns worth trying in the winter. I am spoiled to have a Lowrance 12-inch Carbon graph on the bow of my Nitro Bass boat that I can use to see where the fish are located. Drop shot fishing, jerk baits, worms, jigs and other techniques will work well when you are dedicated to picking apart the right areas in winter.

Striper fishing is good. The fish are running into the creeks and rivers as they get ready for a false spawning run. This is the time of year to catch for both numbers and big fish. The stripers are fat and healthy, and they love cold water.

Unlike other species that slow down in winter, stripers love cold water. These fish are stocked by the DNR, and they are used to running from salt water into fresh water in the winter. Our stocked fish are available and are put directly into the fresh water of Lake Lanier. They learn quickly to feed on shad and blue back herring. Then they run through their natural feeding and reproductive process, even in our fresh water environment.

The fish are used to feeding on schools of shad and blue backs. An umbrella rig is extremely effective for catching stripers in winter. Deploy a Captain Mack’s umbrella rig when trolling. Other umbrella rigs outfitted with SPRO Buck tails and Hyper Striper tails will also work well.

While trolling with umbrella rigs, find the fish feeding on shad. Live bait is probably the best bet when you are around actively feeding fish. Live bait on planner borders, flat lines and down lines are really hard to beat. Herring and trout have been the best options this week when you locate the active schools of fish.

Start out pulling live bait in the creeks where you mark fish on your Lowrance Electronics. As the sun gets high in the sky, follow the seagulls and loons out into the main channels of the creeks to score some good bites.

The night bite should start soon, but as of this week we have not had much action. If you choose to fish after dark, target the docks with lights in the backs of the creeks. Stripers are feeding on blue backs around Hydro Glow Lights after dark.

Crappie are starting to get active, and they are one of the earliest fishes to start eating. Use your Lowrance Structure Scan to locate the docks loaded with fish.

Shooting small crappie jigs up around docks that have brush and other man-made cover is the key to catching a limit of these tasty critters.

Bank fishing:  The stripers are moving shallow in the backs of the upper lake creeks. So are the bass and crappie. Now is the time to fish around the creeks and river bridges both day and night.

If you are blessed with some time off from work, then deploy slip bobbers with live minnows and set your bobber stops to 10 to 12 feet deep. The fish will be deeper during the days, but as the sun sets, these same fish will move shallower in the water column.

Set out floating lights after dark to activate the bait fish and the predator fish that chase them. Cast minnows on a float or work small crappie jigs through the depths to catch a variety of fish after dark.

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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