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Lake Lanier Fishing Report: Bass biting well at all depths on Lanier
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Lake Lanier’s water level is at 1,067.09 or 3.91 feet below full pool of 1,071.

Water surface temperatures are in the low 50s. Lake Lanier is clear to stained on the main lake and moderately stained in the rivers and creeks. The Chattahoochee River is moderately stained below Buford Dam. Check generation schedules at 770-945-1466 before heading out to the river.

It is getting very close to Christmas, so if you have an angler that you need to buy presents for at the last moment, here are some ideas. Kids who are just starting will love an entry- level fishing rod and reel combo. There are many to choose from.

You can buy a Spider-Man, Barbie or other kids-fishing combo for those youngsters who are under 8. Make sure to get a plastic casting weight. Kids want a present they can play with right away and they will have fun just casting in the backyard or other large areas, without cars or trees to snag.

For older kids and adults who are just starting to get into the sport, you can buy a Zebco 33 combo reel and rod outfit or another inexpensive spinning or spin-casting reel and rod combo.

Most of the aforementioned fishing outfits come pre-spooled with fishing line, so all you need are some hooks and bobbers or small lures like a Rooster Tail, Rapalas, crank baits, etc. You may also want to purchase the same casting plug as mentioned above so the adults can play, too.

If you are buying gifts for an experienced angler, you can’t go wrong giving a gift card from your local tackle retailer. If you know what species of fish your angler targets, then you can go to the local tackle stores or retailers and ask for assistance. Keep your receipts in case your angler needs to exchange it.

If you have a higher budget, look into purchasing a guided fishing trip from a reputable guide.

Bass fishing is very good.

Many anglers are catching spotted bass and largemouths from less than 20 feet deep. This pattern goes against the so called normal winter fishing where almost all of the bass are sleeping on the bottom in the deeper ditches and timberlines.

The bass this week can be found from 5-55 feet deep. These fish are hitting a variety of lures. Keep an open mind and let the fish tell you what they want.

I fished with a friend this past week who I hadn’t fished with in a long time.

He showed me a couple of new areas to target. He was fishing main lake humps and points way outside of the creeks out on the main lake. Our first stop was an area that I was very aware of because I usually fish there in late spring on into the early summer when the topwater action is on.

His first cast landed a jig directly on the shore. He was dragging it down the steep side of the hump when his line jumped.

He reeled up the slack and set the hook on a decent keeper that bit in about 10 feet of water. We caught more bass in the same type of areas all day, so this shallow action was not just restricted to the early morning. In fact, the shallow water bite got better as the day went on.

Several different lures will work well in shallow water.

The main lure used was an Olive Green Strike King Bitsy Bug rigged with a Big Bites Red and Watermelon-colored Fighting Frog.

This jig combo looks a lot like a crawfish and bass can’t seem to pass it up. We also used other bottom lures like a Big Bites Shakin Squirrel rigged on a 3/8-ounce Gamakatsu Alien Head. The same Shaking Squirrel rigged on a drop shot rig also works well.

Some other lures that worked well for both shallow and deep bass include a SPRO Little John DD. This lure will dig into the bottom all the way out as deep as 18 feet when the conditions are right. Most of your strikes with a deep-diving plug will occur when the lure deflects off an object.

Other moving lures like a jerk bait, Fish Head Spin or even a SPRO Buck Tail are worth a try. The Buck tail is one of the least talked about lures for bass fishing, but it is an excellent choice because skilled anglers can fish it at a variety of depths.

You can run it on the bottom like a jig and pig, reel it fast where you see fish schooling or you can reel it slowly through suspended bass at any depth you want.

The deeper bite is also getting strong.

It will just get better and better as the winter sets in and water temperatures drop below 50 degrees. Follow the shallow ditches and creeks channels on out deeper where the ditches intersect with flooded timber from 35-60 feet deep. Deep offshore fishing can be hard because it takes some time on the water to discover these secret honey holes. When you do, you will be glad you invested the time.

Your electronics and a quality lake-mapping chip for your GPS are very valuable tools. If you do not have one, you are definably at a disadvantage.

These valuable tools will reduce your searching time and increase your catching. I have a Humminbird 998c on my console with a Lake Master Chip for my GPS and zoom out until I see thick black lines which indicate bluffs, ditches and steep drops.

Striper fishing has been on and off, but anglers who are on the water all week are reaping the rewards. The stripers are active and they will move around to different areas based on what type of forage they are targeting. Stripers can be found shallow where the gulls and loons are hanging out.

When the stripers are shallow, you don’t need a fish finder as much as you should be scanning the surface with your eyes or even with a great pair of binoculars.

Bait fish fleeing on the surface and stripers swirling around will give away the medium-to-large schools of stripers that are feasting on shad and herring.

These fish will eat shad, bluebacks and smaller trout pulled on a plainer board, free line or on a longer free line with a balloon tied on about 10-15 feet above the bait. Just use the trolling motor enough to keep your planner boards or free lines from tangling.

Trolling an Umbrella Rig has been working great in the secondary points in the creeks. Long pockets close to the creek channels are also holding some good numbers of stripers. Use smaller Ú-ounce jig head or SPRO Buck tails and a lighter umbrella rig and go as slow as possible down your trolling speed to 1 « miles an hour.

Switch to a heavier rig if the stripers are deeper.

There are also some deeper fish targeting bluebacks in 15-30 feet deep over smaller ditches and deeper flats that lead out of the pockets.

Down line a large blueback herring, jumbo shiner or medium-to-large trout. Set your weighted down lines to where you mark baitfish and stripers on your graph. Pull one flat line with a large trout or gizzard shad out back behind your boat for a chance at catching a rogue trophy striper.

Some anglers claim that the night bite is still on. A SPRO McStick 110 cast around docks midway on back into the back of the lower lake creeks has been rumored to work.

Crappie fishing is OK. As is usual for this time of year, very few people are talking about it.

We have caught some crappie and even some tasty yellow perch on jigging spoons around brush piles set out in 25-30 feet back in the creeks.

Trout fishing is fair to great, depending on where you fish. There are some creeks that are managed strictly for large fish. They are catch and release only in the North Georgia Mountains.

People blessed enough to fish these waters are catching some trophy Browns, Rainbows and even Brook Trout on files and light-spinning tackle.

You either have to hire a guide or become friends with the landowners.

If you get a chance, winter fishing for trout can yield some awesome catches. Some in the Wildlife Management Areas are also holding good trout but check to make sure that you choose a year-round fishery. Wear bright orange during hunting season.

Fishing on the Chattahoochee River below Buford Dam has been fair. Use bright-colored Mepps or Rooster Tail inline spinners or try bottom fishing with night crawlers where permitted by law.

Bank fishing: Striper fishing from the bank continues to be a great way to spend your day. Get an aerated five-gallon bucket and a dozen trout or jumbo shiners and go fishing.

When the weather is mild or cold it is pretty easy to keep live bait alive if you make sure to use a quality aerator.

Use a quality rod holder or make one from PVC pipe. Cast your trout or shiners with a slip bobber set for 15 feet in areas where the wind is at your back.

Good places to fish from the banks are East Bank, West Bank, Mary Alice Park, Tidwell Park, River Forks, Holly Park and Little River, among many others.

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 esaldrich@yahoo.com or visit his website at aldrichfishing.com.

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