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Lake Lanier Fishing Report: Bass fishing strong with high water levels
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Lake Lanier’s water level is 1,073.08 or is 2.08 feet above the normal full pool at 1,071. The corps is doing a great job of pulling the water down closer to where it needs to be for the next few months. 

The main lake is clear to slightly stained down lake, and clear to stained up lake. The creeks and rivers are slightly stained in the mouths and stained to very stained or even muddy toward the backs. 

The lake temperatures will vary up or down, but right now surface temperatures are in the lower 50s.

The Chattahoochee River below Buford Dam is stained and the water flow is heavy. Check generation schedules before heading out to the river at 770-945-1466. 

Bass fishing has been very good in my Nitro Bass Boat this past couple of weeks. January is historically a tough month, so it has been a blessing. We have had some great days for both numbers and size. There have also been some off days too, but we have managed at least a five-fish limit every trip.

The higher water levels pulled a lot of bass up shallower these past few weeks. These fish were taking advantage of the extremely high water levels to feed on a little bit of everything.

Worms from newly flooded yards, shad drawn up shallow to eat and even crawfish are exiting their winter wholes in clay banks. Just about anything else that the bass could find was fair play.

As the corps pulls water levels down, there are still bass up shallow. We have had better luck hitting areas where a large flat empties into deeper water through a distinct channel. Look for signs like loons, kingfishers or even gulls in the area.

If the birds are present, then you are in the right area.

In the mornings, I will drop my MinnKota 101 far away from the banks and follow a channel up on into the flats.

Keep a worm on a jig head, drop shot or a small jig to drop to any fish you see on your graph entering these areas. Once you get back to the flat, keep an eye out for any schooling fish. Crank a SPRO RkCrawler, spinner bait or an under spin with a Big Bite Cane Thumper.

Reel these lures slow and steady, making contact with cover and the bottom. If you see any lay downs, rocks or other objects, cast your lure to them.

Always keep a worm or jig heady to drop to fish you see on your electronics. The large screen on my Humminbird 1059 DI helps me put several more fish in the boat every day that I would not if I didn’t have it.

People are amazed, but you can usually cast a crank bait or other lure with exposed hooks into a lay down tree and retrieve it without getting hung up. Just crank it slow and steady through the branches, and stop it if it gets hung.

Usually, the crank bait will just float back up and you can start reeling it again. Taking chances and learning how to cast and retrieve a lure through these snaggy areas will pay off big time to produce the biggest bass in the area.

Later in the morning, after the sun gets up, a lot of fish will move back out deeper into the ditches or along steeper submerged ledges of rock walls. While these deeper fish pose a challenge, it pays to really work a ditch or wall and find where the fish group up.

Use a jig, Texas rigged worm or a Shakin’ Squirrel or a Flying Squirrel on either a drop shot or a jig head. I really have good luck working a Green Pumpkin Chartreuse Flying Squirrel on aÚ-ounce Green Gamakatsu Alien Head. Use this set up in the same places where other anglers would use a jig.

Other methods are working too, so keep an open mind and let the fish tell you what they are interested in.

Striper fishing has been good most days, but there will always be peaks and valleys in winter fishing. The water has cleared well in many areas and the stripers still have a huge full lake to swim around in. The same areas that are holding bass are also holding stripers. The birds are a major giveaway so keep watching and listening for gulls, loons and kingfishers.

There are a lot of stripers around shallow flats and pockets in the creeks, rivers and off main lake. Watch for birds and use your Side Imaging technology to find the clouds of baitfish and even the larger returns indicating big stripers to give away the best areas.

Most of the fish in these areas will be located out off the flat.

Set out a couple of flat lines or planner boards and troll or drift around slowly to find where the stripers are located. If you see that the fish are down deeper than 15 feet, set a down line out.

There are fish from the surface on down to 50 feet deep in these areas. The stripers have preferred medium-sized trout and blueback herring his week.

Make sure to be willing to move or change depths. If the stripers are not there or they are there and just not eating, don’t be afraid to move. When you find the right area, the stripers will let you know. Use lively bait and quality line, hardware and rods and reels.

Crappie fishing has been up and down. Some anglers have been doing very well, while others say that the crazy rain and weather has pushed the fish off of their normal areas. Up lake, the crappie will be on docks with br brushy banks in the creeks and rivers.

They will also school out over shallow flats and around the bridges. too. Down lake, they tend to relate to marinas and docks in the pockets.

With quality electronics and Side Imaging, it is so much easier to find these fish. You can shoot sonar under docks or around bridge pilings and locate crappie and the schools of baitfish they feed upon. Finding the fish is 80 percent of the battle.

Once you find the fish, then you can use a handful of techniques to catch them. Most crappie anglers have a lightweight-spinning outfit (or a 100!) that helps them to properly fish lightweight crappy jigs and lures.

An accomplished perch jerker can shoot a 1/32-ounce crappie jig underneath a dock or into almost unreachable areas where the crappies hide. Once you have made a cast, just engage the reel and let the jig just swing back. After the cast, watch your line closely for a “tick” that indicates a bite. Engage and reel your fish in.

Trolling or “lake raking” has been good in the stained water in the pockets towards the backs of the creeks. Set out five-rods (or more) on each side of the boat. Set your longest rods out front and stagger down to your shortest on the back.

Use lightweight crappie rods with light 4 -6 pound test line. Put two jigs on each line and just cast them out and troll them on a very slow speed on your trolling motor. See YouTube or other Internet and magazine articles to elaborate on your knowledge of trolling for crappie.

Trout fishing below Buford Dam remains slow because the Corps is pulling so much water. During the rare slack times you can catch a few on worms (where live bait fishing for trout is permitted) or bright colored flies and inline spinners.

Fishing in the mountains has been a little better with the clearing waters. Fly fishing with dry and wet flies or spin fishing with small inline spinners or small crank and jerk baits has also been working fair.

Bank fishing: Set out those striper rods on the lake shores.

Simply take a piece of PVC pipe that will accept your rods handle and pound the PVC into clay banks to make an ultra secure rod holder.

In colder weather, your bait is easier to keep alive. Buy live bait and get either a five-gallon bucket with and aerator of one of those, flow and troll open style of bait buckets where you can freshen the baits water from time to time. Small trout and medium-to-large shiners stay alive well in a carry style bucket.

Try to fish banks that have deep water.

Also, try to have the winds at your back. Hook your live baits on either slip bobber on the surface or a Carolina style bottom rig. Hook your minnows through the lips for a more natural presentation.

Don’t be afraid to move, especially if you have not had a bite in a long time. For bank anglers, a move of 25 yards can make a huge difference.

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. I would love to hear from our readers so please email me at esaldrich@yahoo.com or visit my website at aldrichfishing.com or lakelanierfishing.info. Remember to take a kid fishing!

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