Lake Lanier temperatures have dipped into the upper 40’s. The lake level is rising a little and is around 1,068.9 feet, which is close to two feet below the full pool of 1,071 feet. Lake Lanier is clear to stained on the main lake and stained in the creeks and the rivers. Check the generation schedules before heading out to the river at 770-945-1466.
Most anglers think that bass get sluggish in the cold weather. We fished in a tournament last weekend and there were lots of big bags of spotted and largemouth bass. This just goes to show that Lake Lanier’s bass population is as healthy as ever.
The bass are following many different patterns and you can catch them both shallow and deep. There is a great jerk bait bite going on the main lake. Target the steeper windy banks and use a SPRO McStick with a jerk and pause retrieve. I like to use a 10-pound Sunline Fluorocarbon because a lot of the strikes come when the lure is paused and you can feel or see the strike when your lure is paused.
About 70 percent of the strikes you get on a jerk bait will occur while the lure is paused. This light fluorocarbon also sinks, which allows these jerk baits to run a little deeper. Other lures like Spinner baits and Fish Head Spins will also work well on these same windy banks.
There are some bass shallow in the coves around the ditches, but the better fish have moved to the steeper, deep banks. Target bluff walls and rocky banks or deeper docks for your best bites. These fish will strike a Creepy Crawler Jig, drop shot rig or jig head and finesse worms.
Work your lure with a stair step action down the steep banks. If you locate deeper fish you can get directly over them and work a jigging spoon or a drop shot rig and watch for fish on your electronics. Sometimes when the fish are on the bottom they will be hard to see, so also pay attention to the bait clouds and also watch as your lure falls. Sometimes you can see a fish rise to take your lure as it drops. We call this “Video Game” fishing and it’s a lot of fun.
Some bank anglers are hooking some bigger bass while striper fishing with live bait. You can catch bass from the banks in winter but, most anglers target stripers.
The striper fishing is good, but keep an open mind and be prepared to follow the active fish. The stripers can be found feeding in the back of some of the upper lake creeks in the mornings. These shallow stripers will hit live bluebacks or trout fished with planner boards, balloons and free lines.
Here is another secret I learned years ago: A Bomber Long A or even a SPRO McStick will coax a bite from these shallow fish, even if the bait they are targeting are much smaller. Cast these long lures to the banks and reel them back with a slow and steady retrieve for some ferocious strikes!
Trolling Umbrella rigs is also a good technique around these same pockets and you will pick up stripers as they enter and leave the shallows. The umbrella rig can out fish live baits many times. Check in with your local tackle dealer to get details on the proper set up and boat speed for fishing these multi-lure rigs. Use SPRO or Captain Mack Buck Tails with a Hyper Tails as trailers.
There are also some decent schools up in the rivers and down in the main lake creeks and they can be found both shallow and deep. Keep and eye on the “birds”. I pay close attention to my Humminbird Electronics and also the natural birds that feed on Lake Lanier’s bait fish.
Watch your electronics for clouds of bait and the tell tail lines or arcs that indicate bigger fish. Also, keep an eye out for blue herons, kingfishers, loons and gulls. All of these birds rely on baitfish for their livelihood, so you can bet they will be close to the best areas.
My buddy Keith Pace of Micro Spoons gives some great advise for catching winter slabs.
“Winter can be a hard time to fish due to the changing weather and cold temps,” Pace said. “If you dress properly, you can still get out there and find them.
“This time of year I still do some trolling” he said.
Pace also says to target brush piles in 15-30 feet of water as they almost always hold fish. Slow down your presentation by gently jigging around the brush piles to get them to bite.
Trout fishing remains slow, but a winter trip will let you experience the quiet on the river. You can catch trout on Rooster Tails and Rapalas, fly fishing or even live bait where permitted. You will also see a healthy amount of our local wildlife.
Deer, Ducks and other native wildlife can be very active during the winter and they are easier to see because of the lack of leaves on the trees.
Bank fishing for stripers remains your best bet in the winter. Use heavy tackle and live bait with a slip bobber for your best results. Try and position your fishing rods where the wind is blowing at your back so that your bobbers will be pulled away from the banks and out into the lake. Some bank anglers are catching big spotted bass while targeting stripers.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit his website at aldrichfishing.com. Remember to take a kid fishing!