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Lake Lanier Fishing Report: Bass are feeding in varying depths
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Water temps are in the upper 50s. The lake level is 1,058 or 12.61 feet below a full pool of 1,071. The main lake is clear to stained and the creeks and rivers are slightly stained. The river below Buford Dam is stained.

Bass: This past week has brought a variety of weather and lake conditions. I have never winterized a boat in my life, but now would be the time to perform this task if you don’t fish during the colder months.

In the meantime, the cold weather anglers may be enjoying some of the most productive fishing of the year. The bass are biting well, as long as anglers are willing make the necessary changes. I have caught bass this past week from water less than 5 feet deep, down to as deep as 50 feet. The best anglers in the world are the ones who can adapt and make change as the fish go through their daily movements.

There is a myth that bass stop eating and hibernate during the colder seasons. I can assure you this is not the case. Bass are cold-blooded creatures and they do slow down so anglers should follow their lead and slow down their presentations.

Bass like all creatures go through active feeding times throughout the day. It is important to identify these periods and adjust your retrieve speeds and lures as conditions dictate. I look for signs of the active times by observing the birds, squirrels and other animals we see during the fishing day.

During active times we have been casting SPRO McSticks, Fish Head Spins and even small topwater plugs in areas where the bass are feeding. I actually caught five bass just this past Wednesday by casting to fish feeding on the surface. We found these fish while driving my Nitro down the lake and watching the surface closely.

I even had one instance where I caught a bass feeding on the surface while running more than 70 miles per hour between my areas.

In one instance, I saw a single bass in front of my boat eating bluebacks, while my fishing partner has his face buried inside his hoodie because we were running 70 mph. I stopped the boat, jumped on the front deck, cast to the boils on the surface and hooked the bass.

I was swinging the bass into the boat while my buddy was untying his hoodie. I loved that puzzled look on his face as I explained how I saw, cast to and caught a nice bass, while he was catching a nap. I call this catching fish on the jumps.

Most of the time, the bass have been in a neutral mode while relating to the bottom and some of these spotted bass have been really nice fish. I caught two spotted bass that were close to six pounds this past week. These fish were caught on a dropshot rigged Cane Stick worm in over 50 feet of water.

These fish were grouped up in a large school on the first line off standing trees on a steep bank and these fish were still grouped up, and before we left them we caught 10 or more in under an hour.
We were casting out our dropshot rigs with a 1/4-ounce Tungsten dropshot weight. I use this heavier weight to keep the bait on the bottom.

Other lures are working well for deep fish. Jigging spoons, Jigs and other bottom-bumping lures have also been producing fish. Your electronics are key tools for finding and catching bass in deep water and my Humminbird graphs have really served me well in the colder months.

I have also caught plenty of bass in under 20-feet with some of these same lures so there are always shallow fish somewhere on the lake.

Stripers: Striper fishing has been good and the fish are moving in the rivers as well as down lake in the creeks and pockets. The gulls and loons are giving away some of the best areas. Gulls and loons feed on the same baitfish that stripers do. If the birds are feeding, then you can bet the stripers are around, too. Stripers are opportunistic feeders and they will eat wounded baitfish that the loons and gulls miss.

We have seen a lot of schooling action for stripers and bass in the backs of the creeks and pockets around the creek mouths down lake. These fish are eating a combination of slow-moving threadfin shad and faster moving bluebacks and gizzard shad. If you can determine the type of bait the fish are eating, it will greatly assist you to pick the correct lures or bait fish to use throw.

Live herring, trout and even native Gizzard shad are hard to beat and stripers will hit these larger offerings even when they are targeting the smaller threadfin shad. The secret is to keep your baits directly in front of their noses.

Use flat lines and also set a couple of baits on planner boards, so you can cover a wide area. If you see that the fish are deeper, then switch over to a down line and adjust your depth accordingly.

Remember that stripers will usually move up to strike a lure but they seldom move down so it’s better to err to the shallower side Anglers who fly fish are enjoying some very productive fishing this past week.

There are two reasons that fly fishing works so well on Lake Lanier in winter. First, the fish are often up on the surface swirling or busting up smaller baitfish schools, so it is easy to see where to cast. Second, fly fishing allows an angler to use a very small streamer of baitfish imitator so they can match the small threadfins very well.

You will need a heavier fly rod like an 8 to 10 weight with a strong main line and leaders. We have are still enjoying a good Bomber Long A bite from sunset to around 11 p.m.

Crappie fishing is up and down but some of the hard core slab anglers are doing well. The areas in the backs of the creeks where stained water meets the clearer main lake water are good areas to start fishing.

Use small crappie jigs and troll or shoot them around docks and areas with sunken brush.

Trout: Fishing below Buford Dam is decent and the water conditions continue to improve. Live earthworms on a bottom rig are hard to beat, just make sure to check local regulations. These same worms work well in the mountain streams where permitted by lay.
Fly Fishing with a wet fly is also a great choice in winter.

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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