Water temperatures continue to hover around the 50-degree mark. The lake level is 1,066.79 feet, or 4.21 feet down and rising as it continues to track towards a full pool of 1,071. The main lake water is clear down lake and stained up lake. The lower lake creeks are clear in the mouths and stained in the backs and the upper lake creeks and rivers are very stained. The Chattahoochee River below Buford Dam is clear.
Bass fishing has been a little tougher for some people. At the Wal-Mart BFL Lake Lanier season opening tournament the weights were a little down from the previous year. David Lowery won it with five bass that weighed 17 pounds, 4 ounces. Usually this time of year it will take over 20 pounds to win. David told the press that he caught his mixed bag of largemouth and spotted bass from under and around docks in the mid-lake section, and that the largemouth bit in less than 10 feet and the spotted bass were out slightly deeper at around 15 feet.
I have been fishing a lot and the patterns seem to change as weather fronts move in. There have been several methods at varying depths that are working right now. You can go flip docks with jigs or a shaky head worm in the creeks, you can cast a jerk-bait on the main lake and secondary wind-blown points or you can fish a jig, drop shot or spoon in deeper ditches for bass that are still in a late winter pattern.
My dock bite has worked best when the sun is up and the winds are light, but as you can tell from last week’s winner, bluebird skies are not a prerequisite for this pattern. Skipping or casting a Big Bites Cane Stick on a 1/8th ounce Alien Head around docks in the creek pockets is working well for a number of bass. Start on the deepest dock in the cove and work your way back in and let the bites dictate which depth is working best. Then you can run a similar pattern in other coves. The bass don’t always hit these lures on the fall but be prepared to set the hook right out of the gate as some are eating it before it touches bottom. The majority of fish this last week have been on the front of docks that are in 15- to 30-feet of water. I have caught a few shallow but they seem to be smaller fish.
If the wind is blowing, casting a SPRO McStick 110, McRip85, Pointer or suspending Rogue has been deadly for big spotted bass out on the main lake and secondary points. Some days you may have to run and gun these types of areas, while on other days we have been able to hang around and capitalize on a few more bites in the same area.
The timberline fish seem to have moved up a little into some of the deeper ditches that connect the river or creek you are fishing with the spawning flats in the back. Follow these bass highways with your electronics until you find baitfish schools and actual fish. Drop a jig, drop shot or spoon below your transducer and you can see the bites happening. If you lose contact with the school, turn on your Side Imaging to find them and reconnect with the bites.
Stripers: I have personally witness some schools of stripers feeding in the middle of the coves while loons and seagulls joined in too. Stripers will eat a variety of baitfish but a lot of them are keyed in on small threadfin shad. Even though their natural prey is tiny, that does not mean larger bait or lures will not work. We caught a few stripers casting McRip 85 rip baits and small ¼ ounce buck tails to some of the surface feeding frenzies this week.
Watch the birds, scan the surface and keep a close eye on your Humminbird Electronics to find the best areas. There continue to be schools of stripers up shallow in the water column during the morning hours and on overcast days. Pulling small trout or bluebacks on flatlines and planner boards will work best, but keep a ¼ ounce SPRO buck tail ready to cast to any fish you see rolling on the surface.
Some of the guides have stayed on a pretty good deeper bit using downlines in the creeks set to anywhere from 25 feet or deeper to catch stripers during the day. Pulling Umbrella rigs trolled right around 20 to 25 feet at 1.5 miles per hour have been catching some good fish in the same creeks.
The nighttime Bomber Long A continues to be hit and miss. Cast Bomber Long As, Redfins and McSticks around the lower lake islands and dam.
Crappie fishing continues to be great for anglers trolling multiple rods, and the dock bite has also been on fire.
I have had the good fortune to fish with a couple of anglers who could shoot their tiny crappy jigs way up under the docks with hitting anything but water. This method takes some skill, so look it up on YouTube then practice shooting your jigs in on a flat driveway into a small cup or coffee can before getting out on the water. This will save you a lot of money in lost jigs, and it will help dock owners by not snagging or hitting their property.
Your electronics often come into play when fishing for the tasty critters. One of the simplest tools on your graph is the temperature gauge, but it is also one of the most critical in spring. When you can find water in the pockets that is one or two degrees warmer than the main lake, it can make the difference between fishing and catching.
Stained water warms quicker than clear water does.
Trout fishing continues to improve. The Department of Natural Resources is stocking the streams and rivers with new trout. These new stocked trout often include some of the brood stock which can be much larger specimens than the normal 12-inch trout that we all catch.
The fishing on the river below Buford Dam had been more affected by weather than the fish up in the mountain rivers and streams. There are several lures that work in all Georgia trout waters but a small 1/16th to 1/8th ounce Rooster Tail is my go-to choice. Use bright colors if the water is a little stained and natural silver or gold when the water is clear. The new trout will strike just about any color that get too close to them.
Fly fishing and live worm fishing is good but check local regulations if you choose to fish with live bait.
Bank Fishing: Crappie and striper fishing can be very good if you are walking the banks. Many bank anglers go with live bait, but casting lures can be very productive from the shore. Many of the above mentioned lures will work fine even when fishing without a boat. A SPRO McStick 110 will only swim 3-4 feet deep so it’s an easy lure to use to prevent snags. The Rooster Tail will run at all depths and it is a great lure for stripers and crappie if you vary the size. Other lures that you can cast well will work too.
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.