Lake Lanier’s water level remains rock steady and close to full pool. The lake water level is 1,070.41 feet, or .59 feet below a full pool of 1071. Lake temperatures are in from the upper 50s to lower 60s.
The lake is clear on the main lake and in the mouths of the creeks, and stained to very stained in the backs of the creeks and in the rivers. The Chattahoochee River is clear below Buford Dam and bridge construction at Highway 20 has not really affected the water clarity because the workers are doing a great job monitoring runoff. Check generation schedules before heading out to the river at 770-945-1466.
Bass fishing ranges from good to great, and the first wave of spawning bass are moving into the shallows. The full moon later next week will cause many bass to build nests and lay eggs as they go through the process of reproduction.
Polarized sunglasses are a must for bass anglers right now, in my opinion.
As I have gotten older, I know I can sit for hours and just watch the fish, seldom even making a cast. Even though my eyesight has gotten weaker, my ability to see bass has gotten better over years of practice.
I witnessed a huge school of 30 bass or more just meandering in water under 5 feet deep as they swam past my boat yesterday. In an 8-hour day, I probably saw over 100 bass in the shallow water around docks in the creeks and caught easily 30 smaller males and a couple of larger females by skipping Big Bites finesse worms on a one eight ounce Gamakatsu Alien Head around the docks.
Many anglers sight fish for bass, and now would be a great time to hone your skills. There is an old fishing adage that if you can see the fish, they can see you and there is some truth in that. But it does not mean you can’t coax them to bite. Sight fishing can be frustrating as you watch trophy bass swim right by your lure or spook when you land a cast in front of them. The secret is to fool these bass into enacting a reaction bite without first scaring them away.
Crappie fishing is very good, and anglers that cast minnows under a float are starting to reap the rewards. This is basic crappie fishing at its best, and many anglers will wait until this time of year, as it allows skilled and beginning anglers alike to catch these tasty fish.
Get out your lightweight spinning poles and reels spooled with light 4-6 pound test, and buy some small crappie minnows. Hook these minnows through the lips or under their dorsal fins on the back with small Aberdeen style hooks.
Use a weighted bobber and cast to trees laying down into the water by the banks, as well as Christmas Trees sunken in the coves, docks in the shallows or around the bridges. You can add a weight if needed, but you can also go without to provide the minnows the opportunity to swim more naturally. Allow a foot or two of line underneath the bobber, and you will have a great setup to catch shallow crappie.
Trout: I will share some information again from Jeff Durniak with the DNR. Durniak tells us to make sure you put a trout-fishing trip on your list of things to do this spring, especially with the opening of seasonal trout streams beginning on Saturday. The Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service plan to stock more than 80,000 trout during the last full week of March, with more than one million trout scheduled for stocking by the end of this year.
“The four trout hatcheries in Georgia are full of high quality fish this year,” said John Lee Thomson, trout stocking coordinator for the Wildlife Resources Division. “A small amount of stocking has already taken place, but it will pale in comparison to the amount of fish scheduled from March 23-27 to celebrate Opening Day for seasonal streams. Almost every water body, with very few exceptions, that is stocked by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources or our partners at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will be stocked by (Saturday).”
Bank Fishing: Crappie are shallow, hungry, and will give you some of the best eating you can get. Cast small jigs, Rooster Tails and even small crank baits around laydowns, bridge pilings or dicks that you can access legally and with the OK from the dock owners.
There are also some walleye that can be caught up lake, mostly in the rivers, but we do see some down lake all the way to Buford Dam. These northern DNR-stocked fish rival crappie as some of the tastiest fish in fresh water. Walleye get much large than crappie, and can provide a decent fight on light line.
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.