Lake Lanier temperatures are in the high 50’s. Lake Lanier’s water level is just below full pool at 1,070.6 feet (full pool is 1,071). The lake is clear and the creeks and rivers are clear to stained.
The Chattahoochee River is very stained below Buford Dam.
Check generation schedules before heading out to the river at 770-945-1466.
Bass fishing is ranging everywhere from fair to exceptional this week and the weather has played a big role. The recent cold spell has affected the bass in a positive way for anglers adept at fishing deep, but there are still plenty of keeper sized bass up shallower in the water column.
When the water temperatures drop into the upper 50s schools of bass move out deeper where they gang up and start to exploit forage that will keep them fat and healthy through the colder winter months.
Start your day out in the creeks and pockets that have deep water close by. Spotted and largemouth bass have been shallow in the mornings and have been eating moving lures like a jerk baits, crank baits and spinner baits.
Cast these lures around steep rocky banks and also in the ditches in the pockets. Bass follow feeder ditches deeper and into the creek and river channels as they move from their fall locations to where they will spend the winter months.
This is the time of year to start really concentrating on these bass highways. Your electronics are a key tool all year, but they really come into play when the deep bite turns on. I spend a lot of time watching my Humminbird 1158 to see where the bass and bait are positioned.
When the sun rises, move out deeper and target ditches and channels on out 40 feet deep. It is hard to beat the old reliable jig n’pig or jig head with a finesse worm or craw trailer stair stepped down the ditch and creek dropoffs.
Use 10-12 pound Sunline Fluorocarbon on your bait casters or try some of the lighter 12-pound test SX1 Braid on your spinning reels with a fluorocarbon leader.
These higher quality lines will allow you to feel these deeper bites and can make a huge difference with you hook-up rates. Use as light of a jig or jig head as you can get away with, but make sure your lure is heavy enough to stay in contact with the bottom.
On windier days, switch over to a heavier jig as needed to combat the elements.
During active feeding periods some bass will be up shallower in the water column and will strike moving lures. A jerk bait is a very good lure for both size and numbers of Lake Lanier’s spotted bass. Cast a SPRO McStick 110 around windblown points and over deeper brush. Use a jerk-and-pause retrieve.
Vary your cadence to determine the best speed for the current conditions. I will use a fast jerk and pause retrieve without letting the lure rest too long in fall when the water is in the upper 50s. As water temperatures drop, allow your jerk baits to sit still for longer pauses. Spotted bass will charge out of deeper water to eat these long slender lures that mimic blueback herring. Sometime a fish will almost rip the rod out of your hands.
Remember that bass don’t read these reports so they can be caught on a variety of lures throughout the colder months. A Redfin v-waked on the surface can be a deadly lure even on the coldest days. Buck tails are also versatile lures for bass and they can be fished shallow or deep.
Striper anglers also catch a lot of bass on live herring, trout and shad.
Stripers are one fish that don’t really seem to be negatively affected by cold weather. In fact, many anglers catch them better during the colder months. Striped bass are actually salt water fish that, like salmon, move into freshwater rivers to spawn.
Years ago, is was discovered that striped bass that were trapped when the lakes were impounded thrived quite well in fresh water. Now the Department of Natural Resources stocks stripers for recreational anglers to catch. Your fishing licenses help pay for many species of fish including stripers that are stocked in rivers and streams.
We are still seeing some pretty large schools of stripers thrashing the surface and we have even started to get some help from seagulls that move inshore to spend the winter on Lake Lanier.
Some anglers can spot stripers busting the surface from thousands of yards away, but gulls make the job even easier because they can be seen diving around these same surfacing fish. Continue to keep a topwater plug like a Redfin or Super Spook tied on for any schooling stripers that appear within casting range.
Both flat lines and down lines have been working this past week. Blueback herring are a very effective bait for stripers, but as the weather cools trout sometimes work better. If possible, keep a bait well filled with both and let the stripers tell you which works best. I find that trout are a little easier to keep alive both inside your bait tank and also on the end of your line. Watch your electronics to see where the stripers are positioned in the water column and set your lines to the proper depth.
Trolling an umbrella rig usually is a good choice as the cold weather moves in. You can also cast an Alabama Rig as it is just a smaller version of this same technique. These rigs simulate a school of bait fish and can often out produce live bait. They seem to work better back in the creeks where threadfin shad are the predominant forage, but many anglers also use them with great success out on the main lake.
Before this cold spell, we have still been catching stripers on the Bombers and they should continue to bite after dark for a little while. Cast a Bomber Long A, SPRO McStick 115 or Redfin around main lake islands and also in the creeks after dark.
Crappie fishing is still good, but look for these fish to relate to slightly deeper water in the creeks and rivers as the weather cools. Your Electronics will give away the large schools of crappie. When you find them, you can load the boat with small crappie jigs and live crappie minnows.
Target the slightly stained water around docks with brush from 5-15 feet deep.
Trout: The River below Buford Dam remains very stained and fishing has been a little tougher.
Like stripers, trout are not really affected too much by colder weather but they definably bite better when the water is clear. There have been some small insect hatches in the afternoons — both on the river and the clearer mountain streams. Cast small nymphs on a fly rod or use a light 1/16-ounce brown and gold Rooster Tail on spinning tackle.
Bank Fishing: Colder weather signals one of the best times for anglers to target stripers from the banks.
Parks all over the lake can be great places to fish for these larger predators from the banks.
Medium-to-large shiners and small trout are easier to keep alive in a cooler. Stripers will also strike Bombers or other jerk baits and topwater lures fished from shore. When the gulls start to appear, target the areas where you see them during the daylight hours.
Deeper banks tend to be the best producers early in the winter.
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 email@example.com or visit his website at aldrichfishing.com.