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Active birds lead to active fishing
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Lake temperatures into the mid 40s. The lake level came up a little this past week to 1,069.19 feet, which is 1.81 feet below the full pool of 1,071 feet. Lake Lanier is clear to stained on the main lake and stained in the creeks and the rivers.

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

Bass fishing has been challenging this past week but some real “lunkers” are being caught. In winter, Lake Lanier’s spotted bass continue to feed and are growing extremely fat.

Striper guides have reported catching spotted bass up to 7 pounds on live bait this week and the Duluth Bass Club’s big fish was a spotted bass weighing more than 6 pounds last weekend.

Spotted bass over 4 pounds are considered trophies anywhere else in the country, but they are a common occurrence and a great indicator of what a fantastic fishery we have on Lake Lanier.

Most of Lake Lanier’s spotted bass are being caught deep, but there are a few shallow fish hanging around. Electronics are essential tools for locating and catching these deep winter bass. I have personally caught spotted bass up to 100 feet deep, but you will seldom ever have to fish over 60 feet deep on Lake Lanier.

Most of our bites this past week came from the 40-to 50-foot zone and they have been bitting spoons, jigs and even the drop shot.

Seeing a few bass that are suspended in timber 50 feet deep over a 100-foot bottom seems like an impossible task. Actually catching one of those fish can appear magical, but I have seen this happen hundreds of times.

Today’s quality electronics make this possible for just about any angler with a boat and some time on the water. Target bottom features that include ditches or depressions that are in the middle of deep flats, steep offshore drops and standing timber.

Bass will appear like steady lines or arcs on your screen and you can drop a spoon directly on top of these bass and watch them rise to eat it. This is truly my favorite video game.

If deep-water fishing is not your cup of tea, then you can still catch some decent fish around the docks and also on deep rocky banks. Most of the bites are occurring at around 15-to-30 feet or deeper.

Stair step a finesse worm on a jig head or cast a small Jig N’ Pig and work these lures slower than you would in warmer weather. Quality fluorocarbon line and sensitive rods will increase your ability to detect these light winter bites. If you feel weight, it’s often a good time to set the hook.

If you see gulls and loons feeding in an area, try to casting a minnow imitator like a jerk bait, crank bait or even a SPRO Buck tail, because active birds often indicate active fish. Of course, live bait will always produce in winter and the striper guides catch many bass while down lining live bluebacks for stripers.

The striper fishing is still on one day and off the next, but this is the beginning of the trophy season. My buddy Shane tells me that they have done well on white 1/2-ounce Spro Buck tails, lead head flukes, and also pulling Capt. Mack’s 4 arm umbrella rigs when using artificial lures and down lined trout and bluebacks when live bait fishing.

The stripers have been up shallow in the backs of the creeks and some lower lake pockets early or later in the day, but the majority of fish are relating to bait school at around 25-to-40 feet or deeper.

Keep an eye on your graph and look for the large clouds of bait that have arcs, lines or “spaghetti” around and below the baitfish.

The weather fronts can drastically affect the shallow and deep stripers, while the deeper fish seem to stay less affected. Anytime a front is blowing in you should look for a more aggressive bite.

When all else fails, look around for the gulls and loons. These fish eating birds feast on the same forage that stripers do, so you can bet the fish will be in the same areas.

Not many reports are coming in for crappie fishing, but this is the time of year that crappie start to feed up for the spawn. We have caught several crappie and even some walleye while using jigging spoons at around 30 to 40 feet while targeting bass.

Trout fishing is just fair and the best bet is live bait where permitted by law. Live earthworms are excellent bait in winter, especially after a rain. There have also been some small insect hatches later in the day on warmer afternoons.

Many striper anglers are out fishing from the banks this past week. Target areas toward the backs of the creeks. Look for areas that have active birds diving on bait and set out your rods with a live trout set below a slip bobber. Cut bait and even chicken livers will catch an occasional striper set out with 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 readers, so please e-mail him at or visit his website at Remember to take a kid fishing!

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