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Lake Lanier Fishing Report: Bass seeking warmth for the spawn
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Lake Lanier’s water level continues to hold steady at 1061.02, or 9.98 feet below the normal full pool of 1071. The main lake and creeks mouths are clear-to-stained. The creeks and rivers are slightly-to-very-stained.

Lake surface temperatures are rising into the mid-to-upper-50s. The Chattahoochee River below Buford Dam is clear. Check generation schedules before heading out to the river by calling 770-945-1466.

Bass fishing remains good, but the fishing can be spotty during certain conditions. The weather conditions can affect the bass fishing almost as much as they affect the striper action. I learned this the hard way during last week’s BFL tournament.

During sunny days, the bass will congregate around docks, rock and wood cover. If you can find this cover around any significant structure like ditch or creek channels, drop offs or ledges, then it can create the perfect storm for catching bass.

These bass are moving shallow and are feeding up and building energy for the spawn. Most of the bass are fat and healthy and are looking for warmth to help them increase their eggs. If you can place a lure close enough without out scaring them, then you will probably get a bite.

Concentrate on skipping or working a jerk bait around docks during sunny conditions. The bass will position directly under the black dock floats to gather warmth, and these fish are suckers for a properly casted shaky head, jig or soft jerk bait.

Learning to skip or shoot lures takes some practice, and that should take place away from docks on flat water at the lake or in a pond. You can even practice in your driveway by placing a cup within casting distance or by casting under a partially cracked open garage door.

We anglers owe it to dock owners to not ding boats or snag lines and hooks on their docks. YouTube has some great videos with more details on this great technique.

During cloudy days, the fish seem to roam away from cover, so working a crank bait, jig, worm or jerk bait between docks or on rocky points and drop-offs may be best. My co-angler whooped me with a top-10 finish at the BFL because I was concentrating too much on skipping the docks while the fish were roaming around in between the docks instead.

Spinner baits, crank baits and swim baits all have a place this week so experiment with different techniques and locations and you should be able to figure something out. Almost nobody is fishing after dark, but we have boated some of our biggest fish on a custom black and blue SPRO Little John DD worked around rocky points in the creeks.

Striper fishing is still affected by weather patterns, but anglers should not avoid fishing just because of projected conditions. Stripers are feeding heavily and putting on weight, and your chances to boat a trophy fish are very good right now.

We are catching several stripers a day on artificial lures. My go-to lure for casting to surfacing fish is still a McStick 110 in clear chartreuse or morning glory colors. The fish will crush the jerk bait even when they are feeding on tiny threadfin.

Make multiple casts to surfacing fish as it may take 10 or more to hook up. A SPRO Buck Tail or a half-ounce Rooster Tail are great lures too.

The birds and loons are still giving away the best locations when the fish are up on the surface on cloudy days or early and later in the day. During highly sunny conditions, the birds are not as reliable as your electronics. The bait fish and stripers will tend to move deeper when the sun is out.

The techniques that have been working all through February are still useful. Start your day pulling flat lines and planner boards when you find fish shallow and adjust your setup from there.

As the sun gets up, watch your electronics closely and switch to down lines if the fish start to move deeper as the day progresses. Your electronics may tell you to fish shallow or deep, so let them be your guides on the water. My Humminbird electronics don’t lie.

Crappie fishing: This is the time to fill your coolers, freezers and fryers with slabs. Crappie fishing is very good, and they are much shallower than the norm for this time of year.

Just about any method will catch crappie if you are in the right areas. Look for wide recessed pockets with large ditches off-lake, in the backs of the creeks and up in the rivers. Areas that have channels next to shallow flats are holding a lot of fat, healthy fish.

One of my favorite ways to catch crappie is to troll or “lake rake.” If you are new to this method, consult YouTube or consider hiring a guide to learn how to properly troll with multiple poles and jigs.

I use more, but six poles are a good start when trying this technique. Fish three rods on your port side with the same setup on the starboard side. Place two 10-to-12-foot, light-weight crappie poles on the front. Then put two 8-foot poles in the center and two 5-to-6-foot poles on the back.

This will stagger your lines, which cover more water and allow you to make turns without tangling the lines.

When trolling, start out with your lowest speed and increase it as needed to fight the wind. You want to move fairly slowly but try a faster speed when the fish are willing to chase your jigs.

I like to fish two jigs per line: one set on the bottom and one set 12-to-18 inches above it. We start with different colors and change them throughout the day to the ones that work best. When fishing is good, six lines can keep you very busy as two or more poles can get hit at the same time in prime areas.

Other methods are also working well this week. If you prefer to shoot docks, then fishing is very good. Crappie will hang out shallow around both deep and shallow docks this week. Live crappie minnows fished on a long leader below a bobber will induce bites from crappie bass and an occasional tackle busting striper.

Trout fishing: The Department of Natural Resources stocks plenty of new, dumb trout in spring. The warm weather conditions are creating a lot of insect hatches and emergent sub-water critters, so fishing is good right now.

Fly fishing is an art. Learning to cast and manipulate a fly rod can turn into a lifelong obsession, which is extremely healthy for mind and soul. Buy your fly rig at a reputable fly shop or dealer and most will go over details like tippets and flies to use.

A 5-weight rod with floating line and a fluorocarbon tippet and dry dropper rig is a great starter setup. Use a dry fly like Adams Fly or Peacock Caddis on the surface with a wet fly like Pheasant Tail or Midge on the bottom.

Trout are eating inline spinners like Mepps and Rooster Tails in just about any trout water. Rapids and the deeper pools positioned below them are prime areas to catch trout right now. Live red wiggler worms on a bottom rig can’t be beat right now. Just check those regulations to make sure live bait is permitted in your area.

Bank fishing: Where and what species should a bank angler target right now? I am going to say get out and fish your closest local waters.

Everything is biting. Trout, brim, crappie, bass and catfish will all be positioned close enough to the banks to provide good fishing.

If you are new to fishing, here are a couple of rod and reel suggestions. You can’t go wrong with a medium action spinning reel with 6-to-8-pound test. Kids and even adults often prefer an easy-to-cast rig like a spin-casting rod and reel. A Zebco 33 is a time-tested setup.

Beetle Spins, Rooster Tails, small crank baits and plastic worms are all good lures to use unless you prefer live bait fishing. Minnows and worms with or without a bobber will entice just about any species that swims.

Crickets are awesome for catching brim, and chicken livers or cut bait (pieces of fish) are standard fair for catching catfish or an occasional striper if you fish Lanier.

You can practice casting in the driveway. Just be aware that your neighbors may ask you if the fish are biting while they secretly suspect you’re crazy. Trust me, I know.

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 esaldrich@yahoo.com or visit his website at aldrichfishing.com or lakelanierfishing.info. Remember to take a kid fishing.

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