Water temperatures are in the mid to upper 60s. Lake Lanier’s water level went up again and is at 1,065.58, which is 5.42 feet below a full pool of 1,071. Lake Lanier is clear on the main lake and stained from pollen in the creeks and coves. The Chattahoochee River below the Buford dam is clear. Check generation schedules before heading out to the river at 770-945-1466.
Bass fishing remains very productive. Many of the bass are in the shallow water where they are easier to catch.
We caught fish on several different patterns this past week and there are reports of just about every type of lure and bait working. Even the fish we caught over deeper water were still shallow in the water column. The bass are in all stages of their reproductive cycles. Anglers refer to these stages as the pre-spawn, spawn and post-spawn stages. Pre-spawn happens when water temperatures hit the 50-degree mark, before bass make their nests or go ‘on bed.’ Bass in the pre-spawn stage will be fat and healthy as they feed heavily during this period. They need this energy to carry them through the mating process. Bass then start their spawn when water temperatures rise into the 60s and low 70s. The males and females make nests or beds where they lay and fertilize their eggs.
Bass in this phase will strike lures more out of aggression than hunger as they try to protect their nests, eggs and young from predators. Brim, crappie and even other bass will eat the eggs and young if they go unprotected, so make sure to return any fish caught shallow during this phase. Post-spawn is the period directly after the time bass finish spawning. They leave their nests and start feeding to recover from the labor of making baby bass. Bass in this phase may look skinny and may have sores on their tails or sides but this is normal and they will recover and look healthy again soon. These post-spawn bass are hungry and they will feed all day long trying to recover their health.
Some lures will catch bass in all phases of the spawn.
A finesse worm on a jig head is probably the most versatile lure to use as fish will strike a Jig head worm on the fall, while working across the bottom and even as it is retrieved to make a new cast. Crankbaits, spinnerbaits and topwater plugs will all work this time of year. My go-to bait is a Little John Medium Dive or the McStick. I cast these lures all the way to the shore and reel them back through the rocks and clay. Most of the bass strike these lures right after they bounce or deflect off an object. Live bait accounts for many fish caught and a minnow or night crawler below a bobber can insure that anglers catch a variety of species. When live-bait fishing for bass, try using a circle hook to decrease the chances that a bass will swallow the hook. This allows for an easy, quick and healthy release, plus circle hooks will hook bass without having to set the hook. This is great for kids because they just pick up the rod and reel and reel in the fish.
Stripers: This is one of the best times of the year to catch a trophy striper. These fish average eight to 15 pounds on Lake Lanier but spring brings the bigger stripers into shallow water as they feed and attempt to go through the spawning ritual. While stripers try to spawn on Lake Lanier, there is no actual reproduction. These fish are stocked specifically as a game fish for anglers to catch, plus they help keep the baitfish populations in check.
The stripers in spring can be caught on a variety of lures and bait. Like the bass, you can pick your favorite method and catch fish. Trolling umbrella rigs, pulling live bait and casting large surface and subsurface plugs all are good methods to try.
We caught some stripers this past week while fishing for bass with McStick jerk baits and also a «- ounce white Rooster Tail. We also saw stripers schooling on the surface so topwater plugs are starting to produce some good line sides, and this action will continue to improve in the next month. Most anglers know that a Bomber Long A will catch stripers at night but very few anglers throw these lures for striper in the daylight. That is a mistake, because I have seen many big fish eat these lures in the middle of the day. Cast your Bomber to any active schooling fish and reel it slow and steady and hold on. There are still some good fish being caught after dark on Bomber Long As, McSticks and Red Fins V-waked on the surface. Target the lower lake creek areas with sandy banks. Areas around the dam usually hold some good fish after dark.
Crappie: Crappie fishing is good and there are plenty of fish to be caught. Shallow coves that have brush, stumps and laydowns are prime areas to target right now because the crappie are shallow. Get a bucket of minnows and some ultra-light fishing rods rigged with four-to eight-pound test line. Use a small Aberdeen style hook and place it one to two feet below a bobber. Hook a live crappie minnow through the back or through the lips. Casting or trolling crappie jigs, Micro Spoons and Hal Flies are all productive ways to fish.
Trout: Seasonal trout streams open Saturday and almost all of the seasonal streams, and even the year-round creeks and rivers, have received newly stocked trout. The catching can be fantastic this weekend as most of the trout have not learned to fear humans or lures. Small inline spinners, like Rooster Tails and Mepps lures, are very effective fish catchers and they are some of the least expensive lures to buy. Live earthworms are probably the number one baits used to catch trout. Use a small hook on light line and place a ¬-to Ú-ounce split shot weight about a foot ahead of your hook. Make sure to check your local regulations as many trout streams are artificial lures only. Many anglers consider fly fishing the only way to catch trout, and it does indeed take some talent. I am not an avid fly angler but I must admit that catching a trout on a fly is a thrill. There are many great resources on the internet to teach anglers this art form.
Bank Fishing: Take a kid or adult bank fishing this weekend. I remember as a kid, we used to fish with live earthworms or night crawlers and catch a variety or fish. I never managed to get into any trouble when I was fishing, so that may be a good lesson for all of us. When taking kids, it is a good idea to concentrate your efforts on helping keep lines untangled, making sure they have a snack or drink and to also allow them to quit fishing and skip stones or turn over rocks looking for critters. These memories are priceless and will matter more than any work meeting or afternoon of chores years from now. A Zebco 33 with a bobber, hook and a live worm is the perfect fishing outfit for kids and adults alike.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or visit his website at aldrichfishing.com.