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Lake Lanier Fishing Report: Bank fishing strong around bridges
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Lake Lanier’s water level remains at almost full pool at 1,070.36 feet or .64 feet below a full pool of 1,071.

The CORP continues to keep the water flowing through Buford dam. Lake temperatures are in the mid to upper 40’s. The lake is clear on the main lake and in the mouths of the creeks. It’s stained to very stained in the backs of the creeks and in the rivers.

The Chattahoochee River is clear below Buford dam. Check generation schedules before heading out to the river at 770-945-1466.

Bass fishing remains about as tough as I can remember, but no need to worry. Lake Lanier’s population of spotted and largemouth bass are fat and healthy. Fishing will improve as warmer weather moves in. Right now, your best bet may be to keep moving until you find a school of bass grouped up.

Several factors come into play and will explain why the bite is tough.

In the past couple of weeks, bass have an abundance of bait to feed on and there are dead or dying herring all over the lake. These herring took a shock from the recent cold spells. Because the herring are so weak, they have supplied Lake Lanier’s bass population with an abundant and easy to catch food source.

The water temperatures are also much colder than normal and fish are cold-blooded animals, so their metabolism slows down a lot in colder water. Take into consideration that the bass are also as ready as we are for warmer weather, so they are neither very deep nor very shallow.

Your best bet is to use your electronics and to slow way down and fish lures like a jig, shaky head, drop shot or even an old-school Texas Rigged curly tail worm.

The deeper docks have been holding some fish and the first deep dock in a cove may have several bass on it. Skip a 3/16-Gamaktsu Alien Jig Head with a Big Bites Shaking Squirrel under the docks and watch your line closely because bass will eat this lure on the fall.

On sunny days, break out your SPRO McSticks 110 in Dirty Bone or Clear Chartreuse color and cast these lure toward the back of the docks. Work them with a twitch-and-pause retrieve right beside the black floats.

Bass will hold tight to these black floats as they warm the water just enough to provide the fish with a little more comfort from the very cold water temperatures.

Use natural colors if the lake water is clear or switch to brighter colors if the water is stained.

Stripers fishing has been hit and miss. Your best action may occur in the mornings, as stripers will move shallower to chase blueback herring in the pockets. You will actually see herring in less than five feet of water, even with the cold water temperatures and if you’re handy with a cast net, you should be able to net enough for the day in just a couple of casts.

Start out your day with flat lines and planner boards rigged with herring, trout or gizzard shad and run your baits shallow in the same pockets where you find the herring. Sometimes it pays to use a bait that is different from the normal forage.

Experiment with the trout or gizzard shad to give the stripers something different to look at.

Both flat and down lines have produced this past week, but the pattern seems to be flat lines in the mornings and down lines as the sun clears the horizon during the day. The stripers do not read these reports so they may not know what there are supposed to do so play around with your set-up and let the fish tell you what they prefer.

Your electronics are a key resource for any type of fishing, but especially when the stripers are deeper. I can use my Humminbird’s Side Imaging to scan and area or 200 feet, or more, to each side of the boat.

At this range, it may be difficult to mark single fish but you will definably see the baitfish schools. Where there is bait, the stripers will not be too far behind.

There have been a few reports that trolling umbrella rigs have been working up the lake. Trolling these multi-armed rigs can outfish live bait.

There are many factors that go into trolling an umbrella rig. Depth, Speed and the size of your lures all come into play when trolling the multi-armed rigs. Check in with you local tackle shop to get information on what is working best.

Crappie fishing is good for the anglers that can shoot and troll jigs properly. The crappie are in there pre-spawn season and they are eating well to get through the rigors of there reproductive cycle. Deeper docks with brush around them are holding some nice schools of crappie.

Shooting jigs around the docks is an art form but it’s not as tough as you may think. Hiring a guide will help in learning this technique. You can also watch YouTube videos and other sources on the Internet. Just make sure you practice and learn how to shoot so that you don’t snag docks or ding boats. Anglers must set the standard so that we don’t anger lake property owners.

If trolling or shooting is not for you, try this technique.

Hook small crappie minnows through the lips and attach a split shoot about 24 inches above your bait. You can dangle these off a dock or set them out behind the boat. As the season progresses, you can fish this same set-up under a bobber.

Trout fishing in North Georgia is good, but you will have to work a little for them. The water is cold and the trout are biting. Try a ‘dry and dropper’ set-up on your fly rods to increase your chances.

This is basically a wet fly on the bottom and a dry fly tied on your leader a foot or two above. You are basically fishing two different patterns at the same time.

Trout fishing below Buford dam has been fair but they will bite. Continue to use a Rapala Count Down and try casting it up stream with a jerk-and-pause retrieve and also cast it into the deeper pools, let it sink then reel it slowly back the bank to the boat.

Live earthworms, where permitted by law, have been a good choice. All of the rain we have had has washed worms into the river, so a live worm matches what the trout are eating.

Bank Fishing: Fishing around bridges is a great way to catch fish from the shore. There are many bridges on Lake Lanier and they will all hold fish. Right now you can grab a minnow bucket, buy some bait and a slip bobber and go fishing.

Slip bobbers can cover a wide array of depths. These bobbers have a hole through them, so that they can slide up and down the fishing line.

There is usually a small knot tied on the fishing line to stop the bobber from sliding up the line. The line used to tie the knot is usually made of string. Use a small bead with a hole through the center and slide it on to the line.

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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