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Lake Lanier fishing report: Cold weather presents challenges
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Lake temperatures are into the mid to lower 40s. The lake level continues to hold steady at 1068.9 feet, which is 2.1 feet below the full pool of 1071. Lake Lanier is clear to stained on the main lake and stained in the creeks and the rivers. Check generation schedules before heading out to the river at 770-945-1466.

Bass fishing has been slow unless you know how to pattern Lake Lanier’s deep winter spotted bass and it takes a little work to get on them. Electronics are key tools for targeting deep winter bass. Finding the ditches, creek and river channels is much easier with today’s side imaging capabilities. We used to have to crisscross an area with 2D electronics to get a good idea of what was below. With side imaging technology we can drive over an area and quickly get a picture of the bottom 80 feet wide or more. I can also mark waypoints over bottom features even though I am nowhere over them. All that being said, finding the fish is only part of the equation.

We have been on a bluff wall pattern. The ideal conditions are when the wind blowing directly into the bluff wall banks with gulls and loons in the area. If you encounter this situation then several baits can work. It sounds like a broken record, but I have been consistently catching big spotted bass on the McStick jerk bait with a jerk-and-pause retrieve. It seems that the colder water temperatures demand a longer pause.

Jigs and worms are probably the most consistent and most popular lures in the winter. These soft plastic offerings are great for sluggish winter bass. A jig is hard to beat in the winter. Either stair step these lures down the steeper banks or work them directly over where you mark fish on your finders. Deep docks are also worth a cast or two in winter.

I have also witnessed bass being caught on Fish Head Spins worked slowly around these steep banks. My buddy works these small lures like a worm. Another great way to keep your Fish Head Spin in the strike zone is to position your boat near the banks and cast out to deep water and let your lure hit bottom. Then work the Fish Head Spin up the bluff wall. Bank anglers are in the prime position to use this same technique.

Striper fishing is still on one day and off the next. Weather patterns can greatly affect stripers in the winter. When a front is approaching then the bite can be on fire. Several methods are worth mention for fishing in the winter.

Right now, trolling the umbrella rig is working very well for anglers who can master this multi-lure rig. Use a Captain Mack’s four-arm umbrella rig set up with SPRO Bucktails tipped with Hyper Tails and troll midway back into the creeks.

The gulls and loons will also give away the best locations. Troll at around 2 miles per hour. This method requires quality electronics and some patience before you can master the technique, but once you do you can even out-produce live bait.

Before you start using the umbrella rig, stop by your local tackle retailer and get a Umbrella Rig retriever and talk with the patrons to get critical tips to make your trolling more successful.

Live trout, bluebacks and even shiners will catch stripers this week. There are plenty of fish shallow, but the most consistent producers have been the down lines. Watch your graph and position your baits just above where you mark fish on your finders.

Casting buck tail jigs to swirling stripers is a proven technique when stripers are on the surface. Keep one tied on while you troll or pull bait around.

Crappie fishing has been slow for most anglers, but I did witness one angler catching a good stringer of these tasty fish. He was working a crappie jig tipped with a small crappie minnow and he was fishing from inside his boathouse and pulling crappie up out from brush that was directly below his dock at around 25 feet deep.

Try targeting the deep bridge pilings and brush piles in the creek channels towards the backs of the creeks.

Trout fishing is slow, but there are some anglers braving the colder temperatures below the dam.

Fish a live night crawler on a weighted line or try jerking a Rapala countdown around the front of the deeper pools and the rapids.

Bank fishing: There are plenty of bank anglers out targeting stripers this week.

I mentioned that I would outline some different areas that banks anglers can target. Use a quality rod holder or fashion one from PVC and secure your rods well. Use live bait below a slip bobber or try live or cut bait on a Carolina Rig and cast your lines out deep.

If you fish the Forsyth County side, then try fishing around Six Mile or Charleston Ramps. The stripers have been back in these areas and they should stay around for the next moth.

If you fish closer to Gainesville, then try the areas around the bridges in Wahoo Creeks and Little River. I have caught plenty of stripers in both of these areas over the past years.

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 e-mail me at or visit my website at Remember to take a kid fishing!

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