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Lake Lanier Fishing Report: Colder weather is impacting fishing
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Lake Lanier’s water level is 1,070.38 or .62 feet below the normal full pool at 1,071. The main lake is clear to slightly stained down the lake and clear to stained up lake. The creeks and rivers are clear to slightly stained in the mouths and stained to very stained the backs.

The lake temperatures have dropped into the mid to upper 40’s. The Corp continues to pull water from the Chattahoochee River below Buford Dam. Check generation schedules before heading out to the river at 770-945-1466.

Bass: Winter has finally arrived, and the fishing has changed. Down lake, the water is clear and cold. Further north, the water is stained and cold, which has changed fishing during the abnormally warm winter a lot of us had become accustomed.

The shallow bite is not entirely gone, but the shallow ditch bite that had held out so long into the new year has slowed significantly.

It still pays to check the shallow ditches in the first 15 feet around steep rocky banks early in the days but instead of using moving lures like jerk baits, crank baits and under spins. We have had better luck crawling a jig-and-craw trailer or a Big Bites Finesse Worm on a Gamakatsu Alien Head. Crawl these baits on the bottom around rock and claw drop-offs.

I always dip my soft plastics in JJ’s magic, but I especially encourage you to use a bait attractant like JJ’s when the bite is slow.

As the sun gets higher in the sky, continue to work steep rocky banks with a jig or finesse worm out deeper from 25 to 60 feet. Use your electronics to look for both bait and bass close to the bottom. If there is not bait present in the area, it may be time to move on.

With the cold weather we have this week and the lower water temperatures, be on the lookout for shad to die off. Shad will die when the weather turns cold quickly and the water temperatures fall.

It would not be unusual for some to die off with the recent cold snap.

When a shad die off first occurs, fishing with a jigging spoon can be very good. Check the timberlines and deeper creek ditches with your electronics and also look for gulls. Gulls will react differently during a shad die-off.

Instead of large flocks of gulls diving on loons and stripers that are pushing bait to the surface, gulls during a shad die-off will fly around by themselves and will dive on individual shad that are fluttering around or just below the surface as they die from the shock of rapidly cooling water.

After several days when the shad die, the fishing will get tougher but it is way too early to predict a long cold spell as this year’s weather has proven anything but predictable.

Striper fishing has been fair to good, depending on where and who you spend time fishing. The shallow morning bite will be there some days, while on others the fish may be found deeper in the water column.

They have been some stripers biting in the rivers and above River Forks Park. Start your days shallower, looking for gulls and loons and watching your electronics.

The stripers have been shallow in the mornings, especially on overcast days but be prepared with both flat lines and planner boards and also down lines, too.

If you find some fish shallow, drag blueback herring and trout on flat lines and planner boards. The herring have been getting the most bites, but the trout may coax some of the bigger fish to bite. Keep a SPRO McStick ready to cast to any fish that swirl on the surface. Cast it out and reel it slow and steady, and hold on.

On sunny days, the stripers may be found a little deeper in the water column but on cloudy days they may stay shallow all day.

Pay close attention to your electronics and other clues and adjust your baits accordingly.

Continue to keep an umbrella rig, or two, in the boat as trolling has been very good this winter. No reports have been coming from the guides, but you can bet someone is still catching them well on an umbrella rig.

Crappie fishing has been hit and miss.

It seemed as though the fishing was going to be off the charts, but the recent cold spell slowed down the crappie fishing.

Trolling was working well early in the days, but shooting the deeper docks will probably be the better producer this week.

Locate older docks that have a lot of brush planted close by. If a dock is rusty, has an old pontoon boat that looks like it has not moved in years and the dock has rod holders, then those are usually your best targets.

Shooting a crappie jig under docks takes some practice but will pay off dividends for years to come.

Watch YouTube, or better yet hire a guide, to learn how to shoot your jigs under the best parts of the docks. Use a light line that you can see because in winter you will need to be able to see the “ticks” or light bites that come with the colder water temperatures.

You can also fish a live crappie minnow below a split-shot, fished down next to the brush piles.

This works best if you fish from your own dock or gain permission to fish from a friends. Don’t fish from a dock that you do not have permission to fish.

Trout fishing below Buford Dam is very slow.

Fishing in the mountains streams has also been slow. Continue to use wet flies or a double-dropper rig with a dry fly that will work like a strike indicator above your wet fly. Live earthworms, where live bait is permitted by law, have been one of your best bets in winter.

Continue to cast Countdown Rapalas or YoSuri Pinns Minnows up stream on light line. Work these minnow imitators like a jerk bait with a jerk-and-pause retrieve.

Bank fishing: Most striper anglers use live baits from the banks to catch fish year round. Jerk Baits, like a SPRO McStick or a Bomber Long A, worked around points with deep water close by can be great areas to target stripers in the winter.

Also carry a SPRO white «-ounce buck tail and stairstep these down deeper drops for both stripers and bass.

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 readers, so please email him at or visit his website at

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