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Lake Lanier Fishing Report: Bass fishing has been inconsistent
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Lake levels have risen a little with recent rains and are currently at 1060.61, or 10.39 feet below the normal full pool of 1071. The main lake and mouths of the creeks are clear. The creeks and rivers are stained-to-very-stained in the backs.

Lake surface temperatures currently range from the upper 40s to the lower 50s, but colder weather will cause a drop into the upper- and mid-40s soon. The Chattahoochee River below Buford Dam is slightly stained. Check generation schedules before heading out to the river @ 770-945-1466.

Bass fishing has been crazy good one day and horribly bad the next. Most of the areas we fish seem to have definitive “sweet spots,” so try to find and target the best cover and pick it apart carefully.

Most areas seem to be giving up only one or two fish at most. We are usually hitting 10 stops between finding fish that will bite, so don’t get caught up too long in one area.

The ditches are still holding fish, but don’t ignore other productive areas. Bluff walls, steep rocky banks, clay banks and docks are all holding fish when conditions are right. The weather really seems to play into the equation.

Fish have been biting best before weather fronts blow through. On cloudy days, the active morning bite seems to last an hour or two longer than on days with bright skies.

Start your day with moving lures like a #5 Shad Rap or a Fish Head Spin with a 3-inch Big Bites Pearl Colored Grub. Use smaller baits to closely match the size of the bait fish.

Most lures are just going to be larger than the tiny shad the fish are feeding on. These slightly larger shad imitators can coax a few bites. Reel these lures through and below the shad schools you see dimpling the surface.

A Gamakatsu Alien Jig Head equipped with a Big Bites Finesse Worm or Flying Squirrel is a great way to catch both shallow and deep bass. Skip these lures around deeper docks and in the ditches all over the lake. Pay close attention to the depths that your bites occur and concentrate on those depths in other areas.

Note that the preferred depths can change hourly and bass will move shallower or deeper depending on their moods and feeding patterns.

One underutilized lure for winter fishing is the Alabama Rig, which is basically a smaller, castable version of an umbrella rig. Some A-Rigs come with small spinnerbait blades or other fish attracting gadgets attached.

The real heart of this lure are the multiple jig heads and trailers attached to the arms of the A-Rig. These multi-armed rigs closely mimic a small school of shad. Use light jig heads on the top arms and heavier jig heads on the bottom arms. A Gamakatsu Darter Head with a Big Bites Cane Thumper is a great combination to use on your rigs.

Cast your Alabama Rigs on medium-to-heavy long bait casting rod and a reel spooled with 65-pound test SX2 Sunline Braid. Make sure to invest in a lure retriever so that when you get snagged you can retrieve it.

If you are fishing it correctly, then an occasional snag is invariable. Cast the A-Rig out toward any cover like brush or laydowns.

Striper fishing has been good and should stay that way on through next week even with the dropping surface water temperatures projected to accompany the colder weather. With the colder weather, the shad could go deeper, and some may die off. This past week the stripers have been gorging themselves on the tiny shad located all over the lake surface.

Live bait is the favorite way to catch stripers. Because the shad are small you can either “match the hatch” and use small medium shiners, or you can switch things up and pull larger bait like live herring trout or gizzard shad.

Flat lines and planner boards have been most productive because the stripers have been shallow, but look for down lines to produce well this next week with the colder weather forecasted.

Pulling umbrella rigs has been working fair, but casting lures to stripers on the surface has produced some good results. A one half-ounce silver and white Rooster Tail has been a great choice, as has the Fish Head Spin/Grub Combo. Cast the lures to where you see shad and stripers swirling on the surface.

The great thing about stripers that are targeting shad is that they usually stay put in a very tight area.

Crappie fishing has been slow for all but the best deep fishing anglers. Fishing deep brush piles and deep docks can yield some fat slabs for the freezer. Shooting jigs under the deeper docks with brush will produce some bites. Down lining small crappie minnows on light line will also work OK this week.

Remember when you catch a decent crappie to pay close attention to where you caught it and work back over that area thoroughly. Crappie will school up with other like-sized crappie, so if you catch a big female then cast back to that same areas for more bites.

Trout fishing has been good in the mountains and better on the Chattahoochee River below Buford Dam.

Fly fishing with both wet and dry flies has been OK in the mountain streams and rivers. Try an Elk Hair Cadis if you’re fishing the bottom, or a Nymph on top. Other patterns like a Blue Wing Olives or similar flies have also been working both in the creeks and on the rivers.

Try this technique for cold water trout fishing. Use either a Pinns Minnow or Rapala. Cast them upstream and fish them like a jerk bait with a jerk and stop retrieve. This method triggers a reaction strike from any trout, even if it is not hungry. It may just fool the biggest fish in the pool.

The Chattahoochee River has really cleared up. The above methods will work below Buford Dam and so will live worms where permitted by law. Worms, salmon eggs or power nuggets will all fool the recently released trout.

Bank Fishing: I have mentioned this lure recently but feel it needs to be brought up again because of what I have seen this week. Bass and stripers are eating threadfin shad on the surface close to the banks and you can score some big bites casting a one-half-ounce Rooster Tail to any fish you see swirling on the surface.

Many of these stripers are up shallow near boat ramps and parks both up- and down-lake. The early angler will score the best action. Get to the lake early before sunrise — because the lake will be calmer — and witness the fish. Bass and stripers start eating as soon as you can see color in the sky.

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 his readers, so please email him at or visit his website at or

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