Water Conditions: Lake Lanier’s water level has held steady since last week and is 1067.14 or 3.86 feet below full pool of 1071. Water surface temperatures are in the mid 50’s and surface temperatures continue to rise and fall with the weather fronts. Lake Lanier is clear to stained on main lake and clear to stained in the rivers and creeks.
The Chattahoochee River is stained below Buford Dam. Check generation schedules before heading out to the river at 770-945-1466.
Bass: Many people may wonder why anyone would fish during the crazy cold weather we are having this week and the answer is easy. Because the bass are biting! The weather may seem brutal, but you can bet that it does not bother the fish anywhere near as much as it does us humans. It all makes sense when you think about it.
The water temperatures can’t drop anywhere near as fast as air temperatures do. Even when it falls from 70 degrees to 30 degrees in 12 hours, the water can only cool maybe three or four degrees in the same amount of time. Because of that, the bass continue to do their thing and right now that thing is eating. Fall and early winter are the times that bass feed the most in anticipation of the long, cold winter.
Bass are being caught from five to 50 feet deep this past week and bass fishing still rates as very good. You can pick up a shaky head, jig, crank bait or jerk bait and fish different types of cover like docks, brush lay downs and rock. It helps to think about the ditch, creek and river channels as these are the highways that bass use to travel between their shallow and deep homes.
There have been some good fish in a variety of depths but you can almost never go wrong when you target docks that have major depth transitions in the area. If you find a single dock that is in between a large flat and a deep creek channel that one dock can hold an entire school of fish.
One of the biggest mistakes an angler can make is to fish a dock, catch a fish and then move on down the bank. There is one instance you should always look for. If you skip a lure up under a dock and a fish picks it up and swims away from the dock then chances are there are many more fish in the area.
Fish are selfish and will steal food from one another, so if a fish swims away, they are usually trying to keep that food away from other fish. This may seem like an exaggeration but I have caught over 20 fish from one single dock and this has happened more than most people would believe. Fall and winter usually are times when fish will concentrate in an area so don’t rush to leave a place when you get a bite.
Three lures will be on my deck this weekend. A 1/6th ounce Gamakatsu Alien Head shaky head with a Big Bites Shakin’ Squirrel, a Jerk Bait and a deep diving crank bait. Start your days fishing shallow around the docks. If the bank is rocky, I will cast a deep diving SPRO Little John DD and dig it into the bottom.
This lure mimics a cross between a crawfish and a bream. Fish it slow and steady on a bait caster with 12 pound Sunline Fluorocarbon. When approaching a dock, skip the shaky head up under the gang plank and work it from back to the front. Cast an SPRO McStick or a Smethwick Rouge around any points or humps with a jerk and pause retrieve.
There are also some good fish between the banks and the timberlines. Target areas that are near depth transitions and look for the areas where the timber lines intersect with ditches and channels. Your electronics are essential for finding the proper depth. Look for wavy lines or arcs near the bottom with bait fish schools above them.
This can give away a huge school of bass. Sometimes you may not see much, but drop a spoon, drop shot or a jig down and you may just trigger a large group of fish that will bite on every drop.
Jigging spoons can be deadly in late fall and winter and it is not unheard of to catch a fish on every drop. Let your spoon fall to the bottom then turn the crank of your reel once they hop it off the bottom and let it fall, then repeat.
Striper fishing has been very good and should remain that way until water temperatures fall below 50 degrees. There has been an abundance of both herring, shad and gizzards available and the stripers are reaping their rewards. The recent cold spell did little damage and, if anything, activated stripers. To find the best locations, look for birds because when they are around, you can bet the stripers are also very close by.
The flat lines and planner boards have been catching a lot of fish because the stripers have been shallow in the water column. Troll your live bait just fast enough to keep your lines positioned behind the boat. A combination of flat lines and planner boards with both herring and smaller trout have been very productive in the creek mouths, back in pocket and on into the creeks and rivers both up and down lake.
The trout are actually easier to keep alive, so for anglers that only have standard live wells like you see in a bass boat may do best with trout. That being said, herring comprise a large part of a striper’s natural diet on Lake Lanier, so you can’t go wrong fishing them unless you are unable to keep them lively. I learned how to fish for stripers using regular store bought minnows, so medium to large shiners will work if that is all you can find.
Often, you may stumble onto a school of stripers swirling on the surface and you should always be prepared with a rod and lure to cast to these fish. A SPRO McStick or medium sized Bomber Long A will almost always trigger a hook up if you can land it in the middle of the school as it feeds on the surface. Even if the stripers are feeding on tiny threadfin shad, the action from these long slender jerk baits will trigger a strike.
Continue to troll umbrella rigs, as they have been working extremely well in the right areas. Troll these multi lure rigs at 1.5 to 2.5 miles an hour. Use your electronics to provide direction for the proper depth and keep moving until you find actively feeding fish. When the gulls and loons are in an area, the stripers almost always will be too.
Crappie: Trolling small jigs continues to catch a few slabs but that action has slowed slightly. You may do better dropping small jigs tipped with a live crappie minnows in brush piles from seven to 15 feet deep. Water that has a slight stain has been holding fish better than really clear lake water. This mostly equates to fishing the pockets, back in the creeks and also up in the river.
Trout fishing continues to be slower below Buford Dam, but I have spoken to many anglers that are still getting their limits. Live worms where permitted by law fished below the rapids in the deeper pools are working both in the Chattahoochee and also up in the North Georgia Mountains. Artificial lures like Rooster Tails and Yo Suri Pinns minnows are catching some fish in the clear running streams up north. Wet flies are working very well in some of the trophy streams up north.
Bank Fishing: Anglers are catching fish from the bank on Lake Lanier and also in smaller lakes like farm and subdivision farms. Two live baits will make fishing easier for shore bound anglers. Both live night crawlers and live medium minnows will coax bites as long as the fish are present.
There are some good fish up shallow in almost all of the ponds and lakes. Try using a bottom rig and also a live bait below a bobber and let the fish that bite lead you into the best option for that day.