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Lake Lanier fishing report: Bank fishing works well during the winter
Striper fishing remains strong
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Lake Lanier temperatures are in the low to mid 40s.

The lake level remains at a very healthy 1,069.7 feet, which is 1.3 feet below the full pool of 1,071. Lake Lanier is clear to stained on the main lake and stained in the creeks and rivers.

Check generation schedules before heading out to the river at 770-945-1466.

Bass fishing has been slow down the lake, but some better reports are coming from up lake in the Chestatee and Chattahoochee Rivers.

The trick in late winter is to find the warmest water available.

When rainwater washes into the lake, two things can happen that will activate fish. The rain run off will warm lake water when it drains into the ditches and feeder creeks.

This same runoff water will also wash nutrients and topsoil into the lake, which stains or muddies the water.

This off-colored water warms quicker than clear water, because the sun heats it up. Sometimes a water temperature difference of one to two degrees can be enough to trigger baitfish, bass and other predator fish into action.

Target the areas in the creeks where muddy or stained water meets the clearer water. Pay close attention to your electronics to find where the bait and bass are located.

Even in the warming areas, the fish may still be positioned pretty deep. Target steeper banks with rocks that are located near shallower flats. Use lures that mimic the forage in the areas.

Crank baits or jerk baits will imitate shad or bluebacks, whereas jigs will mimic crawfish and other bottom-crawling creatures.

Crank baits have started and will continue to be a great bait in late winter.

Cast deep-diving crank baits and try to keep these plugs in contact with the bottom.

Deep crank baits fished on 12-pound test fluorocarbon will allow these plugs to reach their maximum depth.

Stick your rod tip down into the water to get an extra few inches of depth. Make long casts and crawl these plugs over rocks, lay downs and any bottom cover.

One of the best ways to learn how to work a deep-diving crank bait is to take an old one that you never use and try to work it through the thickest cover.

That way, if you snag the lure you won’t mind losing it but what often happens is that you will get a bite because you are placing your plug in the strike zone.

Jigging spoons, drop shots and even SPRO Buck tail Jigs are working for the fish that are still deep. Target the inside timberlines at 45- to 60-feet deep. You can work a jigging spoon directly below the boat or you can cast a spoon or a bucktail jig and hop it on the bottom as you retrieve the lure.

Striper fishing remains good most days and there are many fish in different locations and depths, so several methods are working.

There have been some schooling fish in some of the lower-lake creeks and also up in the pockets just off the river.

These fish are targeting smaller shad and they can be extremely shallow.

These stripers will usually just swirl on the surface, and if they are eating shad, they will tend to stay in that same area for a while, as long as they don’t get disturbed.

Throw a McStick jerk bait to any swirling fish and work it back through the school with a slow and steady retrieve.

Pull live bait on flat lines or a planner board while casting the jerk bait from the front of the boat.

Medium minnows will work well when the stripers are targeting the smaller shad, but don’t be afraid to use trout or bluebacks in the same areas. Stripers are opportunistic feeders and they will often bite these larger offerings.

If your can’t find shallow fish, then pulling umbrella rigs will be your best method.

Some of the guides say that these rigs will out- produce live bait this time of year. I agree.

Pull a three- or four arm umbrella rig with buck tails rigged with a Hyper Tail Trailer behind the boat at 2 mph and target the points and secondary points midway on back into the creeks.

As usual, look out for the gulls and loons and watch your electronics. All of these tools will narrow down your search and increase your success.

I have not heard any reports about night fishing, but the Bomber Long A and BBZ1 Swimbait bite should get going as soon as the water temperatures rise into the upper 40s to lower 50s.

The crappie fishing reports have picked up a little and we are just weeks away from one of the best times of the year to target these tasty fish.

When I asked my buddy Keith Pace for some advice for fishing slabs this week his reply was “structure, structure, structure.”

Make it a point to try to find structure in 15-to-30 feet of water on every trip out.

When you can find some good trees or brush piles in deep water, you will always have a place to catch some crappie when the weather is not ideal.” Crappie will either be out actively feeding (that’s when long line trolling comes in to play) or relating to structure.

Once you find the fish, then you can experiment with jigs, crappie spoons or live bait to unlock the best methods for success.

Trout fishing remains okay, but the fishing will pick up very soon. Trout fishing is open year round in most places except for a few wildlife management areas.

Even though these areas are open year round, the Department of Natural Resources still has a schedule for stocking trout for spring.

Opening day was once, and still is in some areas, April 1, so look for new trout to be stocked heavily in the next couple of months. Live worms, Rooster Tails, small minnow imitating plugs and even streamers that imitate small shad are all working okay right now.

Bank fishing: Striper fishing is the most popular bank activity in winter, but there is another species that will also bite well in cold water.

Try catfishing from the banks. Use chicken livers, cut bait or even live bluebacks. Hook your bait onto a 2/10 Gamakatsu Live Bait hook with a 3-foot leader, and a one-ounce egg sinker just above a swivel.

This is basically a Carolina Rig. Cast toward deeper channels and secure your rods well. You may also catch other species too, but Lake Lanier has plenty of hard-fighting catfish for the taking.

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. He would love to hear from readers so please e-mail him at or visit my website at Remember to take a kid fishing!

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