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Lake Lanier fishing report: Active fish located in ditches
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Lake temperatures are in the mid 50s but should reach 60 if we get a few days of warmer weather. Lake Lanier's water level is a half-foot over full at 1071.5. Lake Lanier is clear to stained on the main lake and stained to muddy in the creeks and the rivers. Check generation schedules before heading out to the river at 770-945-1466.

Bass fishing has been fast and furious some days and slower on others. This week's colder weather didn't hurt fishing too much, but some anglers I spoke with seem to be more affected than the fish. The bass are still up and shallow. Just as with last week, we caught fish on a bunch of different techniques and lures, so "junk" fishing was and will remain the way to go.

The jerkbait bite has been strong at times. Work a McStick or Rogue in natural shad colors around the docks and ditches in the pockets. Try to pay attention to where the ditches just off the flat run. Your electronics will help, and many of the local anglers remember where the ditches are from when the lake was down during the drought. If a ditch runs next to a secondary point, that's even better. Cast your jerkbait straight in the same direction where the ditches run and work them with a jerk-and-pause or a very slow-and-steady retrieve. Most of the fish we are catching are on the sides of these ditches and can be shallow. Even through these stickbaits only run about three feet deep, we are often reeling them into and over the tops of submerged vegetation like the scrub pines and grasses. An Aruku Shad or rattle lure worked in the same areas can also be effective.

If it is cloudy out, then the fish will roam around in the submerged vegetation and these same lures will work away from the ditches, too.
Plenty of Lake Lanier's spotted bass spawn on the main lake. The points and humps have been holding some quality fish and these bass will hit spinnerbaits, crankbaits, jerkbaits and I have also had great success with a Carolina Rigged Lizard. Make casts all the way up to the banks and pay attention to your strikes. If they bite shallow, then keep close to the shore. If you get bit deeper, then you may want to back off.

It seems that most of my bites have come as the lures contact some kind of cover, like stumps or rock.

Striper fishing has remains very good for size. Some days the numbers are great and other days you may only get a few bites. I have seen several pictures at my local tackle store of 20- to 40-pound stripers that were caught last week.

Most of these fish are being caught on live bluebacks fished on flat lines and planner boards. A few others have been caught on McSticks and Bombers both during the days and after dark.

Night fishing for stripers has been hit and miss for us, but we have caught stripers every time we have ventured out after dark this week. The rain may have muddied up some of our shallower pockets. I believe that was what slowed the bite, because water temperatures are almost perfect for the night stripers. We have spent most of our time down in the lower lake creeks and the pockets by the dam. The last few trips have been slower, but the cooler weather has kept them biting. Our best night last week was about 10 stripers from 6 to 18 pounds.

Most nights the McStick has out-produced the larger Bomber. I think it is because the McStick 110 is almost exactly the same size as the bluebacks.

If you throw other brands of jerkbaits, it could help to downsize a little.

Crappie fishing is good, and as with the other gamefish, they are shallow. Trolling continues to produce, and for all of those perch-jerkin' pros, trolling crappie jigs and Micro Spoons behind a lake rake is hard to beat this time of year.

I did notice a father-daughter team that was pulling in some nice slabs along with a couple of spotted bass from their dock. They had poles out to the left, right and in front of their dock, and the daughter was keeping very busy reeling in fish. Dad was doing his job and baiting the hooks with minnows and casting them out.

It reminded me of my daughter when she was younger. They were using spin-casting tackle with 8-pound test and the father had rod holders made from PVC pipe screwed into his dock.

They rigged their lines with a split shot and small Aberdeen hook set about a foot below a bobber.

I asked "Why so shallow?" and the girl replied, "Because that's where we are catching our fish!" Just goes to show you don't have to buy a $500 fishing outfit and a $50,000 boat to catch fish!

Trout fishing remains very good and there are huge amounts of freshly stocked trout. Check your local regulations to make sure you can use live bait.

If so, try casting a native Georgia earthworm or store-bought red wigglers and let these either drift with no weight through the rapids or use a 1/4-ounce split shot.

Crimp it about a foot above a small hook and cast it out below the rapids in the deeper pools. We have had a lot of rain, and worms naturally get washed into the stream, so you will be matching the food source that the trout are learning to eat.

If you are fishing artificial-only waters, then fly-fishing with a double-drop rig or a wet fly on the end of your tippet with a dry fly set above it will work very well early in the season. Pay attention to which fly gets your strikes, then you may choose to switch over to the pattern that is working.

There have been some insect hatches going on during the sunny afternoons.

If you prefer to spin fish, then you can't go wrong casting a small 1/8- to 1/16-ounce Rooster Tail in a white and silver or a Rainbow trout pattern.

Bank fishing: Now is a great time to take your kids or parents fishing. The bass and crappie are relatively shallow and you should be able to catch something if you use live bait in the right areas.

I think we could all learn a lesson from that father-daughter team that was catching all the crappie and bass from the docks. You will notice I said dad baited and cast out the hooks while his daughter reeled in the fish.

I made the mistake with my oldest kid because I would take him fishing and try to also fish myself. I got frustrated because I spent all of my time helping him, but that was what I should have planned on doing all along.

When takeing kids or people who are new to the sport out fishing, try to remember your job will probably be to untangle lines, bait hooks and fetch sodas or snacks.

Also remember that kids get bored quickly, so allow them a chance to run around and play or to skip rocks. These non-stressful outings will make for a lifetime of memories for everyone.

Special note: I will be at the Phil Neikro Fins and Skins charity golf and fishing tournaments to benefit Operation One Voice and our troops and their families Friday and Saturday at Lake Lanier Islands.

Our final weigh in will coincide with the big PPA tournament at Bass Pro Shops in Duluth Starting around 3 p.m. on Saturday. Come out and see the event and say hello.

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 or visit his website at


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