Lake Lanier’s water level has risen, and we are now slightly above full pool. The lake water level is 1071.43 feet or .43 feet above a full pool of 1071. The CORPs has done a great job of holding the levels steady, and this is a great help to dock owners.
Lake water temperatures are still holding steady in the mid to upper 60s. The main lake is stained on the surface from pollen, while the water underneath is clear. The creeks and rivers are stained from pollen. The water in the creeks ranges from clear in the mouths to muddy in the backs from rain runoff flowing in. The rivers are stained to muddy because of the recent rain.
The Chattahoochee River is clear below Buford Dam. Check generation schedules before heading out to the river at 770-945-1466.
Bass fishing is off the charts, and some anglers report that they are catching 20 to 40 or more fish in an 8-hour day. I have had similar results, so these numbers are not uncommon for seasoned anglers and even some that are newer to the sport. This is a great time of year to take your younger anglers out to hone their skills.
One of the best producers this week has been the old fashioned plastic worm, so let’s take some time to discuss this style of fishing. Fishing with a worm does take some patience. Right now, the majority of bass are shallow, and because the bass population is much more dense in water under 10 feet deep, this increases your chances of catching them.
You can fish a plastic worm so many different ways, but here are a few of the most popular that have been around for a while.
Thread a straight tail worm on a jig head and skip it around the docks or drag it on the bottom. You can also use a Texas rig, which is basically a curly tail worm threaded on an offset style Gamakatsu hook with a sliding bullet sinker placed just above the hook.
A Carolina rig can be used with just about any style worm. Tie a Gamakatsu EWG hook with a leader of 12 to 24 inches of line, then tie that leader to a swivel with a plastic bead, (the plastic bead protects line wear) and then a heavy round sliding sinker above on your main line. The weight will drag on the bottom, and the worm will follow, which really gets a fish’s attention.
There are some newer styles of worm fishing that have evolved in the past 10 or so years. The Gamakatsu Whacky Rig Jig Head with a straight tail worm hooked through the middle is a very easy and effective way to fish a worm. The drop shot rig is a reverse Carolina rig with a weight tied to the bottom of a 12 to 24 inch leader, with a drop shot hook and a swivel.
Use a plastic worm that has a lot of action. Soft, poured worms like a Big Bites Shakin’ Squirrel or a Robo Worm are both great choices. This is a killer rig for working through Lake Lanier brush piles. Lastly, you can fish a Yamamoto Senko or Big Bites Super Stick or Cane Stick weightless with just a hook around the docks or lay downs.
Any of the above listed worm styles are effective but in spring, the Jig head, Texas Rig and Whacky Rig are probably the easiest for catching bass that are shallow. Cast or skip your worms, and drag or hop them slowly on the bottom.
Sometimes, a bass will just about take the rod out of your hands, but most of the time the strike will feel like a small fish pecking on your bait. I usually wait about a second, then set the hook hard. Many anglers do not wait, so if you are first starting to worm fish, set the hook as soon as you feel a strike. My Dad always said bass don’t have hands, so when you feel something, your worm is in their mouth so set the hook. We also know that hook sets are free, so set the hook anytime you think a fish has your lure.
There are a lot of big, spotted bass out shallow on main lake humps, points and also along the banks on the islands and in the creek mouths. Target banks that have rock and clay, and look for cover like submerged stumps, big rocks or sunken wood. These areas allow bass a place to build their beds or areas where they can hide and ambush baitfish or crawdads.
You will want a lure that hits the bottom so worms, jigs and crank baits are great choices. I like to cover water when working main lake, so medium or deep diving crank baits allow me to move while also enticing these big spotted bass to bite. I like to use a deep diver for these types of situations. Even though the crankbait may dive much deeper than the water we are fishing.
If I have my Nitro Bass Boat moving along in 15 to 20 foot of water, then I can cast a SPRO Little John Baby DD up to the banks, and it will stay in contact with the bottom almost all the way back to the boat. While my crank bait is digging into the bottom, it will bounce off stumps, rocks and other submerged objects, and this is when most of my strikes will occur. Once a concentration of bass is located, then slow down and either work a slower-moving lure like a Texas or Carolina Rig, or just slow down and dissect the area with the crank bait.
The full moon will occur early to mid week next week, so you can bet there will be a big wave of bass spawning again. One thing that does not get much notice, but that the striper anglers can confirm, is that there is a great night bite right now for big spotted bass. Cast a SPRO McStick or Bomber Long A to the banks and slow reel it back to the boat.
Crankbaits like the ones mentioned above will work very well after dark, too.
If you have not already done so, dust off your bass fishing poles and lure, and go fishing.
Striper fishing is excellent one day, and slow the next, but overall the fishing has been good. The stripers are scattered in many areas, so if you do not get a strike in a half-hour, then move around a bit until you find them. Your electronics are important fish-finders, and my Humminbird’s Side Imaging has been an important tool for locating both fish and the forage baitfish that stripers target. Some of the easiest things to see on Side Imaging are clouds or schools of bait.
Baitfish schools show up plainly, like balls or clouds on your screen. You can also tell if they are located to the left or right of the boat, or you can often see them on both sides, which means your boat is right on top of a big school.
If you caught fish in a certain area a couple of days ago, check that area first as the striper may remain in an area with threadfin shad. If you do not see fish or get a strike fairly soon, then work out deeper or shallower with your electronics and look for tell-tale signs that the stripers are present before setting out your live baits.
If you are just starting out for the year or haven’t been out in a week or more, then start around the humps in the creeks down below Browns Bridge or in the creek or river mouths up lake. You can troll umbrella Riggs while watching your electronics to find fish. Trolling has been working well in certain areas, and it can be a good idea to stay with trolling as this method can often out produce live bait.
Once you locate a school of stripers of a productive looking area with baitfish, set out flat lines and planner boards with live herring. Add a trout or gizzard shad to your spreads, as there are some very big stripers being caught, and a large bait may entice one of these huge stripers into striking. Use your normal spread of flat line and planner boards and don’t move your boat too quickly. Often a speed of .5 to 1.5 miles per hour is enough.
Night fishing with Bombers and Mc Sticks has been good both down lake and also in some of the creek pockets up in the Chestatee and Chattahoochee. Cast these long jerk baits to the shore especially around lighted boat docks and retrieve them slowly back to the boat. Finding a productive area is the secret, and once you locate it, then you can often return every year to catch more stripers in spring.
Crappie fishing remains good, and some anglers are catching their limit of 30 fish per person. I also hear of other anglers that don’t do nearly as well. As with any type of fishing, there is no replacement for time on the water. Also, crappie hang around in schools, so if you find a school, these fish often stay put for a while, allowing anglers to return for days to come.
Anglers with a boat sometimes have an advantage over shore bound anglers, because they can move around and find the active schools. That being said, if a bank angler is on fish, they have the advantage because they may not be able to move, therefore they will stick with a school though the feeding cycles throughout the day.
Feeding periods vary, so a boater may fish a great area during a low feeding activity period and leave because they hit it at the wrong time. These boaters may write off that area and never return. Boaters can also struggle just because there is so much water to cover on Lake Lanier whereas bank anglers tend to stick things out.
The following methods are good for boater and non-boaters alike. Continue to use small crappie minnows hooked with Aberdeen style hooks, set under a bobber from a foot to three feet between your bobber. You can hook your minnows through the mouth for a normal swimming action, or through the back so that they struggle a little. You can also cast small crappie jigs under a bobber or with just a jig and swim it back to the bank or boat. Fish around docks, brush, Christmas trees and around bridge pilings.
Trout fishing has been very good, and with all of the rain and steady cool temperatures, this looks as if it will be another great year for Georgia’s trout population.
Live earthworms, salmon eggs and Berkley Power Nuggets are all good choices in areas where live bait is permitted.
Salmon eggs, corn and nuggets work best where trout have recently been stocked. Newly stocked trout are dumb and hungry, and will hit these offerings, because they look like the trout food they have been raised on. Worms work for any trout, whether newly stocked or holdovers because worms flow into the rivers and streams after it rains.
Artificial lures and flies have also been working well, and the North Georgia streams are full of fish that will bite this spring.
Bank Fishing: This is a great time of year for kids and adults alike to fish from the banks of Lake Lanier. Even the most crowded parks offer a chance for you to catch a fish. Brim are often the very first fish that a young angler catches. Most kids and even some adults don’t really care what they catch just as long as the catch something, and brim are prevalent in just about any bank cover. Find an area that has some rocks or trees or brush, then take some breadcrumbs and chum up the waters.
Take a small hook, and thread a worm or cricket on to it and try to cover all of the metal. The biggest mistake I see is that anglers use swivels or large hooks. A brim will clean every bit if bait off of a large hook and never strike the sharp end.
One last thing to remember when taking kids fishing: Make the experience all about them. I stated that beginning anglers don’t care what they catch, and often they don’t even care too much if they don’t catch anything, just as long as they have fun, so when your young ones start skipping rocks, then join in. Being outdoors is a blessing that build memories that last a lifetime.
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. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit his website at aldrichfishing.com.