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Lake Lanier Fishing Report: Fishing warms up with the weather
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Water temperatures have actually risen a little and are right around 50 degrees. The lake level is holding steady at 1,058.38 feet, or 12.62 feet below a full pool of 1,071.

The main lake water is clear and the creeks and rivers are stained. The Chattahoochee River below Buford Dam is clear to stained.

Bass fishing has been good and we have found a productive bite at all levels this week. With the milder than normal temperatures, I would expect the shallow bite to continue for a while. Drop-shot rigs, jigs and jerk baits have been our main lures. We caught spotted bass in over 50 feet of water and have also caught large mouth and spotted bass in less than 10 feet of water. Keep an open mind this week and you should find some cooperative fish.

Steep banks near deep channels in the creeks, that have rocks, are my go-to areas in winter.

This past week, I have been stepping a drop shot or jig down these steeper banks, and most of the bites have come from 40 feet, or deeper.

The spotted bass that you catch fishing this way will usually be good ones. A lot of our bites have been coming below deep docks.

Even though the docks may be 40-to 50-feet above the fish, bass still seem to relate to this overhead cover.

Work your soft plastics down the sides and between the empty dock slips.

I have been using a four-inch Big Bite Cane Stick in pumpkin with some chartreuse JJs Magic die added. A 1/2-ounce Strike King Pro Model Jig, with a craw trailer, has also been working this week.

We have been catching big spotted bass on SPRO McStick or Vision 110 jerk baits around these same docks and some shallower ones back in the pockets. On sunny days, the spotted bass will suspend around the darker dock floats.

They are suckers for these slender jerk baits that resemble blueback herring.

There have been both spotted and largemouth bass back in the creeks around docks in water less than 20-feet deep. We caught a few big largemouths this week and largemouth bass have played a big role in recent years for winning tournaments. Their population seems to be very strong, which adds to the great fishing we are blessed with on Lake Lanier.

Stripers: There have been a lot of reports of good numbers and also big stripers being caught this past week.

I have seen schools of stripers in the creeks, and some of them are massive.

Watch your Humminbird Electronics and also the gulls and loons to give away some of the best locations. There are also some pretty large schools of striped bass that don’t have any birds around them, so your electronics are key tools for finding these fish.

Pulling live bait on flatlines and planner boards, and also trolling umbrella rigs, have been the predominant patterns. Using larger baits in winter seems to help. Trout, bluebacks and even native gizzard shad are all great choices. Rigging a flatline is very easy, because it is just a hook and bait on the end of your line. You can let out 15- or 20-feet of line, then attach a balloon to get your baits way out behind the boat.

Adding planner boards will help spread out your offerings and cover a much wider path, but I have caught plenty of stripers over the years with just two flatlines directly behind the boat.

Keep a rod rigged with a buck tail or jerk bait to cast to any active fish you see on the surface.

Crappie: I have not heard a lot of reports, but the ones I have heard about are very good. Anglers are catching these tasty pan fish around deeper brush piles in the creeks.

The best depth seems to be 15- to 20-feet deep, and you will do better in water that has a slightly stained color to it.

This water holds more micro organisms than clear water, plus it warms quicker too. Downline live crappie minnows alone or tipped on a small crappie jig. Use very light line to increase your odds.

Trout fishing below Buford Dam is fair, but the bite in the mountains has been very good this winter. There are some year-round trophy streams in North Georgia and winter is a great time to catch a trophy trout.

Fly fishing is an art and catching trout on the fly is a passion many anglers get addicted too. Wet (or sinking) flies are the main choices in winter, but I have witnessed some insect hatches on warmer days that can pull the trout to the surface.

Bank Fishing: I have seen many bank anglers out this winter and have personally seen several good catches from the banks. It is special when a striper hits a line from the bank.

Live or cut gizzard shad on a bottom rig are great choices, but jumbo shiners or trout work well too.

Remember to use very strong rod holders and PVC pipe works well and is a cheap way to secure your fishing poles when these hard-fighting fish strike.

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 or visit his website at

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