BY ERIC ALDRICH
For The Times
Thank God the lake has come up two feet and is still rising at the time of this writing. Lake Lanier is 15.9-feet low at 1,055.1 feet, full pool is 1,071 feet, and the lake temperatures are in the upper 40’s. The main lake is clear to stained and creeks and rivers are stained to muddy from the recent rains. The Chattahoochee River is stained. Check generation schedules before heading out to the river at 770-945-1466.
Bass fishing is fair to good. The weather will play a big part for anglers this week. Bass have been shallower with the unseasonably warm days and heavy rain, but look for that to change.
When the weather gets cold the majority of Lake Lanier’s spotted bass move deeper.
Cold weather causes shad to die, and bass will hang out on the bottom in their deep haunts waiting for an easy meal to flutter down to their level. This is the time when a jigging spoon will work best.
First you must find these deep fish. Quality electronics, like my Humminbird 777c and 797c side finder units, are essential tools for locating deep bass.
Target the clearer water and look for baitfish clouds close to the channel drops or at the end of main lake points where the timberlines start. If you see a lot of bait then that’s a good place to start.
Target the 25-to 45-foot range and try to find structure located at the same depth as the bait.
A lot of the bass will be holding tight to the bottom and may not show up on your finder. Others will suspend themselves in the timber tops.
It can be time consuming to locate these areas but they can pay off for years to come. A lot of times these bass will be schooled up in tight groups, sometimes as small as a pickup truck bed, and you will need to position your boat directly over the fish.
Other methods that are producing well are drop-shot rigs, jig head worms and jigs. Stair step the lures down the deeper banks that have a mixture of rock and clay.
Also target deeper docks in the mouths of the pockets. If you catch multiple fish from the same location then you may do well to try a jigging spoon to see if they are schooled up tight.
SPRO McStick jerk baits are working well in the mornings and at peak activity times during the day. Using live bait like medium minnows, trout or herring is an easy way to catch large bass year round. My brother boated a 6-pound spot on a live trout purchased from Hammond’s last week.
One last pattern deserves mention. If we receive a few days of sunshine the stained water from recent rains in the back of the creeks will warm quicker than the clear water on main lake. This slightly warmer water can bring bait, largemouth, stripers and spotted bass into the shallows. Pay close attention to your electronics to find water that is two to three degrees warmer than main lake. You can catch them on jerk baits, crank baits and other shad imitating lures.
Striper fishing is consistent, both up and down lake. If you are fishing from a boat then it really pays to ride around and find the active fish before setting out your lines. Look for gulls and pay close attention to your Humminbird finders to give away the best locations. This week the mud lines (areas where the rain wash meets the clearer water on main lake) are good areas to target.
Fishing with live bait, casting lures and trolling umbrella rigs are all productive methods. The main thing you will need to do to ensure success is to find the active fish. Flat lines and planner boards have both been working well because a lot of stripers are shallow. This can change with colder weather or high-pressure fronts so check your electronics to determine the best depth to fish. Once the fish are located you can often work the same area for a while before the stripers move. If you find the fish rolling on top, cast SPRO Buck Tails tipped with a Zoom Fluke to the breaking fish and reel this lure with a slow, steady retrieve.
Bank anglers have been having success fishing live and cut bait around Six Mile Creek, Mary Alice Park, Holly Park, Flat Creek and Wahoo Creeks just to name a few. Night fishing has been slow for me but I have heard of a few anglers catching stripers after dark while fishing from the banks.
Crappie fishing is a little slow but there are always anglers that figure them out. Keith Pace of Micro Spoons says he has been catching slabs in 15 to 20 feet by trolling small jigs and spoons at a slow pace in some of the smaller creek mouths.
He says the key to success is making sure your jigs get down to the 15- to 20-foot depth. Light line will help so use two- to six-pound test. Once a school of fish is located you can anchor over them and fish down lines with jigs tipped with a crappie minnow.
Trout fishing is slow.
Continue to use live worms and inline spinners below the dam. You can also coax reaction strikes by casting a Rapala Count Down Minnow up stream and working back with a pause and jerk retrieve.
This mimics a dying shad that has washed through the dam.
Eric Aldrich is a part time outdoors writer, bass fisherman and is sponsored by Humminbird, SPRO, Gamakatsu, Tru Tungsten and Hammonds Fishing and Boat Storage. 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 or visit his Web site at aldrich
fishing.com. Remember to take a kid fishing!