Water Conditions: Lake Lanier’s water level remains near full pool at 1,070.39 feet, or .61 feet below a full pool of 1,071.
Lake temperatures are in the mid 50s. The lake is clear on main lake and in the mouths of the creeks, and stained to very stained in the backs of the creeks and up in the rivers. The Chattahoochee River is clear below Buford Dam, but there can be some minor stain from the construction at Highway 20 where they are installing the new bridge. Check generation schedules at 770-945-1466 before heading out to the river.
Bass fishing really picked up this past week. The male buck bass have moved into the shallows around docks and lay downs in 15 feet of water or less. When this fishing is in play, it is not unusual to catch 20 or more bass in a full day of fishing. It is best on the warm, sunny days, but a brief cold spell is not going to turn them off. The coves with docks are where a lot of male spotted and large mouth bass can be found, and the females are not far away.
Two methods have worked extremely well for me. Work a SPRO McStick 110 around the dock floats, especially on sunny days, and make a few casts out into the middle of the coves too as these bass are up feeding on blue-back herring. The cool thing is that you need not work these lures with a jerk and pause. Instead you can do what I refer to as “stupid fishing” — just cast and reel the jerk bait back with a medium-fast steady retrieve.
The second method has been to skip or shoot a jig head rigged with a straight tail worm around and up under docks. I am using a 1/8th ounce Gamakatsu Alien Head rigged with a standard Big Bites Finesse worm. A lot of the bites occur on the fall.
There is a theory about Lake Lanier that any color worm will work as long as it’s green. There is some truth to that, but I believe in also using natural colors like pumpkin seed and crawdad colors. If you do not know how to skip or shoot a small jig head, you can look on the Internet and practice in your own driveway so that we don’t get hung up in the docks or hit any boats.
The larger female bass are a little harder to pattern, but they are ready to move shallow soon. These bigger fish can be out on the secondary points that lead into the coves or out main lake humps and points. These fish can be caught with a number of lures. Even though they are already fat, they are eating for 10,000 (that is how many eggs they average) and they are trying to store up as much energy as possible for the spawn.
Cast any shad or blueback herring imitator to catch largemouth or spotted bass. Both hard and soft Jerk baits, crank baits, buck tail jigs and even 1/4th-ounce white and silver Rooster Tails will work.
A lot of anglers are targeting largemouth bass and there are plenty to be caught. When the lake level was down years ago, a bunch of growth and small pine trees grew around the lake shore. The largemouth bass had a huge amount of cover to hide and spawn in, and the results were that they became more prevalent than they had in years. I believe the largemouth bass stay much shallower than the spotted bass Lake Lanier is known for.
Striper fishing is good and the fish have definitely moved more shallow. Start your day pulling herring on free lines in the pockets towards the back of the creeks and also on the flats in just off the river or creeks below Browns Bridge. It also pays to have one flat line with a trout as this offers the stripers something different to look at.
This is one of the best times of the year to use lures for striper fishing. If you like to fly fish, get out those longer streamers and make casts to any swirls you see in the pockets. A long streamer imitates these 4-inch herring and also looks a lot like the threadfin and gizzard shad the stripers also target.
You can cast a SPRO McStick 110 or Bomber Long A while pulling your flat lined herring. Get out to the creeks at sundown and if the herring are present you can bet the stripers will be there.
Crappie fishing is good and they have started to move shallower. Crappies tend to be in the shallower flats in the backs of pockets and up in the creeks where the water has some stain or color. The microorganisms and small minnows that these tasty critters target is more plentiful in stained water, so that is often where the crappie will be.
Trolling with small 1/16th ounce Hal Flies and marabou jigs with multiple rods that are referred to as lake raking or spider rigs will produce some good numbers of crappie.
Continue to shoot jigs up around the docks. If you can find a beaver hutch that is around docks, there may be a gold mine of crappie. Crappie relate to wood and docks, so when you put the two together it creates the perfect storm. My old friend Keith would shoot jigs under docks where the beavers had hollowed out the old style uncoated styrofoam and catch 20 or more out of one dock.
Hook small crappie minnows through the lips and attach a split shoot about 24 inches above your bait. Cast these from the banks around the bridges for success without having to own a boat.
Trout fishing is picking up, and the Department of Natural Resources has already started its stocking efforts. The official day for trout season is the last Saturday in March. The 2015 trout season opens March 28 and closes Oct. 31.
Many streams and rivers are open year-round, but the fishing will be considerably better on seasonal trout streams and many of the trout have never seen a lure or fly. These newly-stocked trout are used to being in a non-threatening trout hatchery, so they are less spooked by humans and are easy to fool if you get a lure or bait in front of their noses.
Cast small Roosters around the rapids and the flat water in the pools above and below the rushing water. Live earthworms with a split shot placed 12-24 inches above the hook and worm are a staple rig for Georgia anglers. Make sure you check local regulations to make sure live bait is allowed in the section of the river or stream.
Bank Fishing: I talk a lot about fishing around bridges.
Before I owned a boat, I would have my mom drop me off at the bridges to fish while she shopped. There are a lot of things about bridges that attract fish.
Usually a bridge is a “pinch” area that forces fish that are migrating from maim lake to navigate through these thinner passages back into the coves. Plankton also grows on the bridge pilings and around the riprap and threadfin shad spawn on the rocks.
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.