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Lake Lanier Fishing Report: December brings consistent catches
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Water temperatures are in the upper 50s. The lake level continues to drop and is right around 1,057.48 feet, or 13.52 below a full pool of 1,071. The main lake is clear to stained and the creeks and rivers are slightly stained. The river below Buford dam is stained.

Bass: Lake Lanier is arguably one of the greatest spotted bass lakes in the world and fishing during the cooler months can produce some of your best catches of the year. There are many advantages to fishing in the late fall and winter months. First, there is a lot less boat traffic, and you seldom have to compete with jet skis.

On weekdays, you may feel like you have the whole lake all to yourself. Second, the bass tend to school up in smaller areas. This means that when you catch one fish, you can usually cast your line back into the same area and catch more. And last, but most importantly, the fishing can be awesome.

There seems to be this myth that suggests that bass do not eat much during the colder months. I can assure you that spotted and largemouth bass are eating just as much, if not more, during winter.

In past years I have witnessed bass schooling on top and have also seen them eating down deep on my Humminbird Electronics. These bass are often coughing up shad, herring and even crawfish when we land them. Pay attention when this happens and try to see what the bass have been eating recently to determine the best lures or bait to use that mimic their natural prey.

This past week, we have caught bass in as shallow as 5 feet and as deep as 55 feet of water.

The one main component to fishing when the water temperature drops down below 60 degrees in fall is to look for areas that have a ditch, creek or river channel close by.

Also, concentrate on steeper areas that allow bass to move from deep to shallow, while exerting the least amount of energy. I look at bluff walls in late fall and early winter and some of my best areas are off shore dropoffs, because they often get overlooked by many anglers. Bluff walls on the banks are also good areas to target.

Also, look for large flats in the creeks or around main lake pockets that have a ditch or creek channel running through them. Most of these areas will contain cover like brush piles, docks or rock piles that can hold large schools of bass that stage to move up or down as baitfish move around. Ditches and channels are like highways to fish as they move back and forth between areas.

The morning bite before noon has been strong. On overcast, windy days target points and pockets where the wind is blowing and try using a jerk bait like a SPRO McStick, deep diving crank baits, or you may even slow roll a spinner bait on windblown banks. On sunny days, switch to a bottom-bumping lure like a jig n pig or curly tail trailer combo and drag it from 25-to 55-feet deep in the ditches. I have been getting some good bites on the timber lines at 40-to 55-feet deep with the jig or drop shot, but have also caught some decent keepers around shallower docks in the pockets with jig head finesse worms. Striper anglers are catching some magnum spotted bass while targeting stripers with trout and herring. Keep an open mind and watch your electronics closely for clues on how and where to fish.

The stripers are biting well and some big fish have been caught over Thanksgiving week. Twenty-pound stripers are pretty common and 30-pound fish show up weekly at some of the local tackle stores. As with the bass, the stripers can be caught at varying depths, but the most consistent action has been coming on free-lined and planner board trout, and herring for the shallower fish.

Down lines have been OK in the middle of the creek mouths, but there are plenty of fish moving shallow into main lake coves and the creeks and rivers.

It is pretty easy to find the most productive areas and depths. Watch the seagulls and loons to find the best areas and watch your Humminbird Electronics to give away the best depths at which to fish. Some of the shallow stripers may not even show up on your electronics, so make sure to run your planner boards close to the banks as some big fish have been caught shallow this past week.

V-wake a red fins, cast buck tail jigs or jerk baits to any schooling fish you encounter. It often pays to cast lures from the front of the boat while pulling live baits behind the boat. The only down side, if you call it that, is dealing with two fish hook at the same time.

Crappie fishing is good for the cooler water anglers. We have caught a few crappies while fishing deep for bass, but the majority of the tasty pan fish can be found around docks, brush and other cover in less than 25 feet of water.

Trout: Fishing below Buford Dam is decent and the water conditions continue to improve. A live earthworm on a bottom rig is hard to beat, just make sure to check local regulations. These same worms work well in the mountain streams where permitted by law. Fly Fishing with a wet fly is also a great choice in winter.

Bank Fishing: Anglers fishing from the shore can have some great days in late fall and early winter. Get out the heavy poles and make sure you are ready for the big stripers that are moving up closer to the banks.

You can buy some really nice rod holders or you can make your own out of PVC pipe but just make sure to secure your rods because a medium-sized striper can pull very hard. Try using Gizzard Shad or cut shad for your bait. If you can’t find or net gizzard shad then use other live baitfish like trout, large shiners and blueback herring.

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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