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Lake Lanier Fishing Report: Anglers must be stewards of our sport
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Lake Lanier’s water level is still holding out well. The lake water level is 1,070.16 feet or .84 feet below a full pool of 1,071.

Lake temperatures are in the low 60s. The lake is slightly stained from pollen on main lake and in the mouths of the creeks and stained to very stained in the backs of the creeks and up in the rivers.

The Chattahoochee River is clear below Buford Dam and the bridge construction at Highway 20 has really not affected the water clarity because the workers are doing a great job monitoring run off. Check generation schedules at 770-945-1466 before heading out to the river.

Bass fishing remains very good and there are decent amount of bass spawning in the pockets. I have not seen as many bedding fish on main lake, but you can bet that if they are not out there yet, they will be by the time you read this report.

The bass spawn will continue for at least the next month. There are plenty of bass cruising and many are pairing up to mate. The past week’s cool spell did little to affect the fish. It is spring, the moon is close to full and lake temperatures are right around 60 degrees and it is prime mating season for bass.

There are a lot of fish up shallow and around the docks, so continue to skip a one-eighth-ounce Gamakatsu Alien Head Jig head rigged with either a straight tail finesse worm or try a Big Bites Shakin’ Squirrel. The Shakin’ Squirrel has a unique hand poured type of feel, but it is more durable than similar brands so you don’t have to switch them out every time you catch a fish.

If you are wearing your polarized sunglasses, you may often see five or more fish just suspending under the docks.

These fish can be very hard to catch, but your best advice is to stay as far away from the docks and run your trolling motor on it lowest setting and make long cast. All of these factors help you to have a lot more success when you stay back far enough so that the bass don’t see you or your shadow.

There are a couple different jerk baits to try. You can skip a Zoom Fluke or a Big Bites Jerk Shad on spinning tackle and put these lures right in the bass’s faces. Three methods of retrieve work best.

The first is to work you jerk baits quickly with an erratic action without any pauses.

The second is to allow your soft jerk bait to sink after it hits the water, let it hit bottom and then impart gentle slight jerks and let it hit bottom again Repeat this process all the way back as it looks like a dying shad or blue back The third style is one very few anglers use: Just reel your jerk bait with a slow and steady retrieve. If you ever watch baitfish swimming, they seldom move side to side, but instead they move forward in a slow gliding motion. When you feel a strike, count two seconds and set the hook hard.

You can also use hard plastic jerk baits. As you know, one of my favorite lures is a SPRO McStick, but other jerk baits include a Smethwick Rogue, Vision 110 and Rapala Husky Jerk to name a few. I love to fish jerk baits out in open water points and humps and also around docks.

I usually use 12-pound test Sniper Fluorocarbon because it is sensitive and I can feel my bites easier. That being said, it can also be a good idea to try standard monofilament line as it allows your jerk baits to run a little shallower, which can be key to catching fish relating to docks. Bass in spring on Lake Lanier position themselves right under dock floats for two reasons.

The first is because the floats warm the water around them and the second is the bass are hiding as shallow as possible so that they can ambush their prey. If you jerk baits runs at the same depth as the floats, then you will greatly increase your chances of fooling a fish into biting.

There have been some nice-sized largemouth in the pockets and ditches toward the back of the creeks both up and down lake. If the water is stained, try casting a lure with a good deal of vibration.

You can rig a Scrounger or Pulse jig head with a Big Bites Cane Minnow or Basstrix Swim bait, and they will put off a lot of vibrations so that a bass can easily find your lure. Swim these shaking jig heads down the deeper channels or work them around any brush or trees that have fallen into the water around the shore.

Just about any lures are working, so try a crank bait around rocky banks. You can also catch some nice bass by Carolina or Texas Rigging a plastic lizard in the coves that have brush or trees laying down into the water. Fish one-quarter to one-half-ounce jig with a Fighting Frog trailer and work it around dock gangplanks or other types of cover around the shorelines or shallow channels.

Striper fishing is also good and the linesides are biting both up and down lake. There are still a lot of loons and gulls, and these birds along with you electronics will give away the best areas to fish.

Your Side Imaging is a key tool in striper fishing. When exploring water less than 10 to 20 feet deep, it pays to set your width Side Imaging depth to a much more concentrated width.

When you have your Side Imaging set to 100 feet, you are actually scanning 200 feet wide, which means you will lose some detail. If you are cruising around in a cove that is 15 feet deep, remember to set your Side Imaging depth much thinner to around 25 feet wide.

The difference in seeing a stump, brush pile or even a fish at 100 vs. 25 feet is amazing. Also set your chart speed to the same speed as your boat idles.

I have been picking up several stripers while casting a SPRO McStick for bass. Stripers attack jerk baits because they look very similar to blue back herring. You can also v-wake a Red Fib just under the surface too. Keep a jerk bait tied on and ready for any fish you see swirling on the surface. Some anglers I know fish artificial lures only, so you don’t absolutely need to have a center console with a huge bait tank to catch stripers in spring (but it is still nice to have one!).

Pulling blue back herring, trout and even the natural gizzard shad that are prevalent in Lake Lanier’s coves on flat lines and planner boards. You should usually try to troll live bait as slow as possible. Use your trolling mother and set the speed just fast enough to keep your boat ahead of your flat lines. Night fishing is still good, but it will start to slow down when water temperature get up into the mid-60s. While that may seem sad to some anglers, the good news is that the stripers will start to eat top water plugs fished on the surface all day long!

Crappie fishing is very good and there are a ton of fish around shallow boat docks and around the sunken Christmas trees and other sunken brush in the coves. Most of the fish are anywhere from one to 10 feet deep. You can catch them on a cane pole, spinning rod or spin-casting rod using live bait or you can cast small Hal Flies or Marabou Jigs around docks.

There have been some large schools up under docks. The best docks seem to be the ones with rod holder, lights and if they have a fish feeder on them, you can bet the fishing will be good. Make accurate casts or shoot your crappie jig up into tight spots and watch for a small “tick” in your line as crappie frequently eat these tiny jigs on the fall. There is really no need to set the hook hard, but instead just reel it in

Please remember to be courteous to dock owners because they invest a lot of time, money and effort into their properties. I get a few emails a year from property owners telling me about bad experiences they have had with people who are fishing. If you see a dock with fishing poles and floats set out on them, just move to the next dock. This simple action shows good stewardship.

Trout fishing has been very good and a lot of anglers celebrated last week’s opening day by catching a limit of trout. We can thank the good folks at the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and also our taxes. When you buy a fishing or hunting license, boat ramp fees, marine gas, just to name a few, these fees go to pay for fish stocking, park upkeep and many other things that benefit us all. We are blessed by the awesome resources we have in Georgia.

This week you can just about pick your favorite lure and methods to catch a limit of trout. These newly released trout are dumb and hungry! Both wet and dry flies are working, but wet flies work best before and after the sun has cleared the horizon and dry flies seem to work best when the sunlight hits the water.

Rooster Tails, Yo Suri Minnows and a SPRO BBZ1 Baby swim bait will all work very well.

Most anglers do not think about using swim bait for trout, but the BBZ1 Baby looks exactly like a shad in the water.

One of the biggest mistakes I see anglers make it to use too much hardware and too heavy line. Trout are site feeders and they have exceptional eyesight. Try to eliminate using a swivel or lure snap, as these extra elements can turn off the trout from biting. If you feel you have to use a swivel or snap, then go as small as possible.

SPRO Corp. makes some extremely small swivels and snaps and you can find them at your local tackle store or directly from www.spro.com. You should use as light of test line as possible. My preference is 2- to 4-pound test and I have landed several 5-pound trout in the rapids with this light line. If you are fishing with your kids, you can go up to 10.

Bank Fishing: The opening week of trout season has been exceptional and should remain very good up until the weather gets too hot. Georgia has an abundance of trout water and you can look on the Georgia Department of Natural Resources website to find a wealth for fishing and catching at www.gadnr.org/natural. The same lures as mentioned above work as well when fished from the bank or a boat!

 

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. I would love to hear from our readers so please email me at esaldrich@yahoo.com or visit my website at aldrichfishing.com. Remember to take a kid fishing!

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