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Lake Lanier Fishing Report: Don't bet on steady weather in late winter
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Lake Lanier’s water level is 1,070.42 or .58 feet below the normal full pool at 1071. The main lake is clear to slightly stained down lake and clear to stained up lake. The creeks and rivers are slightly stained in the mouths and stained in the backs.

Down lake, surface temperatures are in the mid to upper 40s with some of the pockets heating into the low 50s on warmer afternoons. Up lake has been a few degrees cooler. The Corps continues to pull water Chattahoochee River below Buford Dam. Check generation schedules before heading out to the river at 770-945-1466. 

Bass: While fishing this week, my friend asked me if it was late winter or early spring. I asked him if he wanted the actual chronological or conditional answer? If the conditions are the indicator, it is probably early spring. For the actual day, I just checked my phone, which told me that the first day of Spring is March 20.

Bass fishing has been all over the board and my Nitro has been out almost every day. We are catching both good numbers and fair sized fish up shallow. There have been a lot of 1-3 pound spots on the docks and in the ditches, but the better spotted bass has been coming from a little deeper water. The shallow fishing will get better as the water warms and the weather holds steady. Don’t bet on that steady weather, as late winter can be fickle.

A Big Bites Trick Worm on a 1/8th ounce Gamakatsu Alien Head will catch a bunch of buck bass up shallow and this fishing improves as the day goes on. Skipping and flipping the docks, as well as dropping down to any fish you see under the boat on your electronics, should catch a limit or two if you stick with it. While the docks may give up an 8 to 12-pound limit, there are some much bigger fish biting.

Cast a SPRO Little John MD or Bandit 300 up around shallow rock and clay points leading into shallow pockets. Look for pinch points like a narrow, rocky entrances opening into a shallow flat or shallow saddles between islands. These areas may hold some active fish both early in the day and later on into the afternoon as the water warms.

The better fish I have caught have hit several lures but a SPRO Little John DD, McStick or a Jig and pig out around the steeper drop offs leading into the shallows pockets are great places to find staging bass.

Don’t abandon the deeper fish, by any means. A jig or even a jigging spoons can work around the timber lines adjunction to ditches and gradual points.

If the weather stays warm, then pick your favorite method and go fish. Even if it gets cold, there will still be catchable fish shallow and deep.

Striper fishing has been a little bit all over the place. I am not 100 percent sure that it is a north vs. south end deal. The patterns seem to be based more on a shallow water bite in the stained pockets vs. a down line bite in the clearer water in the creek and river channels.

I have heard of stripers biting from 5 to 75 feet but I am personally seeing more fish up shallow early in the day or when it’s overcast. The fish have been moving out deeper in the 35 to 50-foot zone on sunny, clear days. Herring and small to medium trout have both been good. Flat lines or planner boards shallow early, then deeper later is a good rule but watch your electronics, the gulls, loons and kingfishers for the best areas and depths.

The SPRO McStick or Bomber Bite is something I mentioned last week. I learned years ago that shallow stripers that were eating very small shad would strike what we consider then to be a “big” six-inch Bomber plug. If you see fish surfacing in an area, cast a jerk bait and fish it slow and steady. Use medium-heavy to heavy rod and reel rigged with at least 12-pound test line. I use 15-pound Sunline Fluorocarbon or 20-pound monofilament.

If you hook a striper shallow around docks, you will want a fairly heavy abrasion resistant line to try and control a bigger fish. Keep in mind that your drag and angle of attack are important tools because a striper over 15 pounds is going to give you a very good battle. One over 30 pounds will go where it wants to for a while.

Crappie fishing has started to pick up for the dock shooters and lake rakers. Trolling the stained water in the pockets has been producing some fish. The fish are grouped up pretty tight, so when you get a bite work that area thoroughly before moving on.

The fish have been on the docks in that 10 to 20-foot zone in brush. Work a small Hal Fly or Micro Jig on a 1/16th to 1/24th ounce jig head. You can sit out of the wind on a sunny bank and work brush slowly around docks. Slow is the rule and make sure to work your jig lightly through the brush. There are some brush piles that can give up a limit of crappie. Fishing slow, knowledge of an area and understanding your electronics are all keys.

Trout Fishing: Trout will usually start to react to warmer weather before fish in ponds and lakes. We are seeing some decent catches out on the river below the dam below Buford Dam during slack water periods. Always check on generations schedules. The lake is below full pool but the Corps will still be pulling water in preparation for spring rains. The mountain streams should also pick up, too.

Bank fishing: The bank fishing has been decent for both stripers and bass. Try a live shad or small trout fished under a slip bobber around banks in the parks and camp grounds. Shallow anglers have been catching bass, stripers and even a possible walleye or catfish. Small crank baits and jerk baits will also work well fishing the banks.

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 email me at esaldrich@yahoo.com or visit my website at aldrichfishing.com or lakelanierfishing.info. Remember to take a kid fishing!

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