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Lake Lanier Fishing Report: Finesse techniques will improve bass fishing
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Lake Lanier is holding steady this week at 1060.90, or 10.10 feet below the normal full pool of 1071. The main lake and creeks mouths are clear. The creeks and rivers are slightly-to-very-stained.

Lake surface temperatures have ranged from the upper 40s top the low 50s. The Chattahoochee River below Buford Dam is clear. Check generation schedules before heading out to the river @ 770-945-1466.

Bass fishing has ranged from fair to very good, and results seem to correspond with how much time an angler gets to spend on the water. The bass have been both shallow and deep, but shallow seems to be the most consistent. I have spent most of my time targeting water less than 30 feet deep.

Finesse techniques have been invaluable for the early spring conditions we have been enjoying. Casting a straight tail worm on a shaky head around docks is a time-tested method for catching bass.

This week the bass are around deeper docks outside spawning coves. The ability to land accurate casts and to shoot or skip these small lures into tight places will greatly increase your results.

My shaky head outfit consists of a 6.6-foot, medium-weight Kissel Krafts spinning rod and a Shimano Sahara reel spooled with 6-to-8-pound test Sniper Sunline. If you cast a spinning reel a lot, you will also want to feed the line out and untwist your line after every trip. Always close your bail manually to cut down on twists and knots.

Use a 5-inch Big Bites Finesse worm dipped in JJ’s on a 1/8th ounce Gamakatsu Alien Head on the business end of the line. The Alien Heads skip better than any other jig head I have used.

Casting a SPRO McRip and just winding it at a steady pace has been yielding good results in the shallow ends of the ditches and on humps and points early in the day. Other jerk baits, under-spins and crank baits may also get some bites in these same areas.

If it’s overcast this action can go on later on into the mornings. Try to make contact with the bottom. Bounce your lures off of rock and wood for the best action.

Stair stepping a jig around ditches and on steeper banks is accounting for some big spotted bass this week. Early in the day the fish may be shallower, but as the sun gets up the bass have been hanging around a little deeper on the drops. A Strike King Pro model jig with a Big Bites Fighting Frog Trailer is a great choice for working around these structures.

Target irregular features like large rocks, brush or ledges in the ditches and on the steep banks. You can often find the sweet spot and get more than one bite from these prime areas. We located a piece of broken timber the size of my boat that was in an area and caught several good fish from this one piece of cover.

You will notice that we mentioned specific types of structure (bottom types) and cover (objects on or over the bottom). Use your electronics and GPS to find these smaller areas, and you will increase your knowledge and fishing success.

I spend a lot of time idling around with my Humminbird electronics and Side Imaging finding under water honey holes.

These same areas may or may not hold fish year-round but knowing where to cast will allow you to quickly sample the best an area has to offer.

Striper fishing has been very similar to last week. They are biting up shallower early in the days and during overcast conditions and will bite deeper on sunny days.

There have been a lot of fish in the creek mouths down below Browns Bridge this week. The stripers have been up shallow over open water feeding on shad on the surface.

The gulls and loons will give away the best areas. You can tell a lot from the ways the gulls dive on bait. This is not a hard rule, but if the gulls are diving in a very small area (about the size of a pickup truck bed) and they continue to stay in that one area, they are usually diving on feeding fish.

If the gulls are diving on a larger area and they move around this usually indicates feeding loons. Once again this is not a rule, but stripers tend to corral bait in to tight schools, whereas loons scatter shad and herring around.

Don’t discount the loons either. Anytime there are loons in an area, the stripers will not be far behind.

I have started the day casting SPRO buck tails to schooling fish around birds in the creek mouths. Fly fishing anglers could also do well in these areas. Never charge up to a school of stripers with the big motor. Instead, move upwind and drift or use your trolling motor to slowly move to these feeding fish.

Make long casts, land your lure past the fish and reel it through them. If people are already fishing an area I will move on and find my own fish. There are always some stripers feeding somewhere from Buford Dam on up past Gainesville.

We caught stripers feeding on the surface over water a hundred feet deep as well as a couple fish up shallow under 10 feet of water in the back of the coves in the creeks this week, so keep an open mind.

Use your electronics to find the fish before setting out your spread. Dragging flat lines and planner boards over open water as well as back into the coves in the creeks has been working well when the stripers are up shallow. Switch over to down lines when the fish move deeper.

Crappie fishing has been good. The slabs remain around deeper docks, but they have been a little shallower in the water column. Older-looking docks always seem to hold the best crappie fishing. We always used to joke that if a dock had the old style white Styrofoam floats with a beaver hutch up underneath, then that was the place to fish, and that was often true.

Look for clues like fishing rod holders of fishing lights to hint at which property owners may have set out brush. Never fish a dock while the owners are actively fishing them.

Shoot small crappie jigs up around the backs of the docks, close the bail and jet the jig pendulum back to the boat. Use 1/32-to-1/16th-ounce Hal Fly or Marabou style jigs. You can attach a small curly tail, but a live minnow is hard to beat.

Watch your line for any indication of a bite and then set the hook. Use 2-to-6-pound test on a light-to-light-medium weight rod. You can also catch fish from your docks with a standard crappie minnow or small shad on a down line over the brush.

Trout fishing is decent-to-very-good up in the mountains and down on the Chattahoochee River below Buford Dam. The DNR continues to stock fish and, anytime they release new trout in an area the fishing improves greatly.

Your standard spinning lures or live bait have been working very well with the spring-type temperatures. The big news is that dry fly fishing can be off the charts on warmer afternoons. Start your day casting wet flies and switch over to surface offerings as the sun warms the day.

Bank fishing is very good considering that it is early February. Stripers and bass can be found very shallow on Lake Lanier. Fishing with live minnows under a slip bobber on medium-heavy tackle should yield good results this week.

Find a rocky bank where the wind is blowing out into the water. Set out several rods with slip bobbers set from 5-to-15 feet deep (depending on how deep the water is). Cast a medium-to-large-sized shiner out and set the rods into secure holders and wait.

Switch out your baits every 15 minutes or so, and if you don’t get a bite within an hour move down the bank a little.

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 his readers so please email him at or visit his website at or Remember to take a kid fishing.

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