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Lake Lanier Fishing Report: Bass wishes for your Christmas fishing
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Water temperatures are in the mid 50’s. The lake level has stayed steady thanks to this week’s rain and is at 1,056.34 or 14.66 below a full pool of 1,071. The main lake water is clear and the creeks and rivers are slightly stained in the mouths, and stained to muddy in the backs from the rains. The Chattahoochee River below Buford Dam is stained.

I want to wish you all a very merry Christmas and happy holidays. I am very thankful for all of you who read the newspaper and these fishing reports. Over the past year, many of you have contacted me via email, at product promotions, at events and even out on the lake. I value and appreciate your input. Feel free to email me anytime at esaldrich@yahoo.com. If you see my Nitro Z8 on Lake Lanier, or canoe on the river, stop and say hello.

Bass have been biting well the past couple of months, and we have caught a better than average amount of spotted and largemouth bass this year. The fishing action continues to be very good as we move into the holiday. Christmas, and the week before the New Year, hold a lot of memories from our fishing past. A lot of people have time off during the holiday break and many of you take advantage of this time to go fishing.

The spotted bass have been biting on several different lures and at different depths all over the lake. This past week we have caught them both shallow and deep and at all depths in between. The best action seems to be coming from the creeks and underwater ditches from 20- to 55-feet deep. The bass are also relating to timber lines at 40-to 60-feet deep. Use your Humminbird electronics to eliminate unproductive water. The spotted bass population on Lake Lanier is very healthy.

I have been catching the majority of our bass on two techniques: A drop shot rig and a suspending jerk bait. My drop-shot weight consists of a swivel tied to the upper end, a No. 1 or No. 2 Gamakatsu Drop Shot or Straight Shank hook, and a 1/8- to 1/4-ounce tungsten skinny weight on the bottom. I use 5-to 7-pound test Sun Line fluorocarbon for both my leader and on my main line. You can choose a variety of plastic worms for drop shot fishing. The choices are endless. For the jerk bait, I use a SPRO McStick 110 in spooky shad or chrome shad colors. Other jerk baits like a Rogue, Pointer or Vision 110 are all good choices too.

I rely on a drop shot rig in winter because it catches cold water bass. You can cast these finesse baits out like a traditional worm, or you can sit directly above deeper fish and use it as a vertical presentation.

I usually cast out and stair step my drop shot through steep breaks or over standing timber. If your see fish on your graph, then they can often be caught by dropping your rig directly down to fish you see.

I fish a jerk bait in the early mornings, when the fronts are coming in, and on windy banks when the fish are actively feeding. Cast a suspending jerk bait to the shore, over shallower brush piles and around docks. Use a twitch and pause retrieve and vary the length of time the lure pauses to determine the best action to use in other areas.

Many of your strikes on jerk baits will occur when the lure pauses.

Don’t be afraid to use other lures that you have confidence in. I’ve heard reports from friends about a great crank bait bite for largemouth bass. Several others report success on jigs, Texas and Carolina Rigged worms and Fish Head Spins.

Striper fishing is still good. Winter is the time to find these hard fighting fish in the shallow water where they may be easier to target. Keep watching the birds to unlock the secrets of what lies beneath the surface. Loons, gulls, herrons, king fishers and even your Humminbird electronics are all good indictors of where the fish are located.
In winter, you will often encounter stripers that are feeding shallow in the coves, rivers and creeks. The tell-tale swirls will let you know what the stripers are eating. If you see them staying in the area, then you can bet they are eating smaller threadfin shad.

If the stripers are on the move, but still swirling on the surface, then they are probably chasing the faster moving bluebacks. Pay attention to this and adjust the size of your lures or live bait to closely match the prey they are targeting.

Live bait is hard to beat when striper fishing. Flat lines and lanner boards will work very well when the stripers are shallow. Move out deeper over the creek and river channels if you do not see evidence of shallow fish, and watch your electronics to see where the bait and fish are located. Keep your down lines handy as winter stripers will suspend or chase bait deeper in the water column. The stripers depth will vary much the same as he bass do in the winter, so keep an eye out for clues and adjust your offerings accordingly.

Trolling umbrella rigs is a great way to catch stripers and this technique will fare better than live bait at times. Trolling also allows you to cover water so you can move around to keep up with these line side lunkers. Keep a few different weights of umbrella rigs and also adjust the size of the lures. Minor adjustments will make these multi-lure rigs run shallower or deeper. Most anglers troll at around 2 1/2 mph, but vary your speeds slightly and let the stripers tell you the best speed.

Fly fishing with small streamers and minnow imitators have been and will continue to be effective throughout winter.

Crappie: Still not many reports on the crappie. The few anglers I know that fish for these tasty fish are either holding on to the secrets or are not catching many. Keep a close eye on your electronics because if you find the crappie that huddle in tight schools, you can catch them one after another on small jigs or live crappie minnows. Target docks with brush near the creek channels, or back in the deeper coves.

Trout: Fishing below Buford Dam is slow, but the mountain streams have improved with recent rains. Try to get away from stained or muddy water for your best results.

Live worms are still the most productive bait for catching trout after the rains, but double check local regulations to make sure you are allowed to use live bait. Also try casting a Rapala Countdown Minnow up stream. Use a stop-and-go retrieve like you do when jerkbait fishing to entice some good fish into biting.

Bank Fishing: Striper fishing is getting pretty good for bank anglers. Continue to use both a downline or modified Carolina Rig for the deeper fish, and also try a trout fished below a balloon for the shallower fish. Try to find a bank where he wind is blowing out and this will allow your balloon to stay off the shore.

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. Contact him at esaldrich@yahoo.com or visit his website at aldrichfishing.com.

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