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Lake Lanier Fishing Report: Bait fish are key in catching stripers
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Water temperatures are in the low 50s, and Lake Lanier's water level is 1,063.1, which is 7.9 feet below full pool.

It is clear on the main lake and stained in the creeks. The Chattahoochee River below Buford Dam is clear. Check generation schedules before heading out to the river at 770-945-1466.

Bass: Bass fishing remains good for anglers that are able to adapt to the changing weather and water conditions.

In late winter and early spring, weather patterns will dictate which lures to use, what type of retrieve to incorporate and even which areas will hold fish.

It can be frustrating when the pattern that worked on a sunny day seems to disappear as the clouds roll in the next day.

Anglers that fight against the change may struggle while others who adapt can use it to their advantage.

Studies show that bass can move several miles each day. A lot of these movements involve recycling back and forth between feeding and resting areas.

Bass that feed on schools of shad near a rock pile in the morning may return several times during active feeding periods.

During inactive periods, a few bass may still hang around the rocks, but the majority will retreat back under docks, move to the next depth break or suspend around deeper brush piles to rest.

The real challenge is to know when to fish areas like the rock piles with faster moving lures and when to abandon these patterns to target the inactive bass with finesse or reaction techniques.

The better spotted and largemouth bass have been eating moving lures like spinnerbaits, Scrounger Heads rigged with a trailer or jerk baits.

Work these lures over brush, rock, ledges and around docks near steeper banks.

During this time of the year, bass will be most active on sunny afternoons, as weather fronts come in, and at both sunrise and sunset.

When weather fronts approach, get in the wind and work spinnerbaits, crankbaits or even buck tailjigs on windblown banks.

The wind stirs up the water, which in turn increases the oxygen levels.

Even a cold wind on a 55-degree afternoon warms water that is less than 54 degrees.

This week there were a fair amount of small keeper and non-keeper bass on shallow docks.

These dock fish will strike shaky heads, Texas rigged soft plastics or jigs.

My latest shaky head rig consists of a 1/8th-ounce Alien Head with a finesse worm tied on 7-pound Sniper Fluorocarbon.

Use a medium weight rod and cast your shaky heads to banks that have rock, brush piles, laydowns or skip them around the docks.

Stripers: The stripers have been biting well both up and down the lake. Start your day by locating bait fish schools midway into the creeks.

Look for water that has a little green color to it. When it rains, locate where the muddy water in the creeks meets the clearer water.

These mud lines will corral the bait into huge schools that stripers and other game fish can gouge themselves.

Put small live trout, medium to large shiners or blue backs on planner boards and flat lines.

Change to down lines if your electronics show that the fish are deeper. If there are loons in the area, that is a very good sign. Gulls diving on bait are also a good sign.

Trolling an umbrella rig through these mudlines can make for fast and furious catching.

Use a three- or four-arm umbrella rig with SPRO Bucktails and Hyper Tails. These rigs come in different weights and sizes which allow them to run at a specific depth.

Check in with your local tackle shop. It should have what you need and most will gladly explain how to use it.

Crappie: Crappie fishing is good. These tasty pan fish are staging on the flats, and they can be caught with lake raking or trolling as many poles as you can with crappie jigs.

Some seasoned anglers are shooting docks with crappie jigs and Micro Spoons. Shooting is a great technique for getting a small jig way under the docks where the big fish hide.

Check out the Internet or hire one of our local guides to learn more about this effective technique.

Trout: Trout fishing is good and the DNR is ramping up its stocking efforts.

The Buford Dam trout hatchery is a great place to visit and it has many activities for the seasoned angler as well as kids or adults that are new to fishing.

You may be able to ask one of the hatchery staff questions. Maybe they will tell you when and where they will be stocking trout.

The trout hatchery also offers anglers a great place to fish as it is located on the Forsyth County side of the Chattahoochee River, just below Buford Dam.

See or call 770-781-6888 for more information.

Bank Fishing: Crappie are starting to move shallower around bridge rip rap areas.

Grab a bucket of minnows and some crappie jigs, and set up a few poles around the bridges located toward the back of the creeks. six-mile, two-mile, Wahoo, Little River and most other bridges will hold crappie and other game fish this time of year.

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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