Lake Lanier is holding very steady and is at 1061.01, or 9.99 feet below the normal full pool of 1071. The main lake and creeks mouths are clear-to-stained. The creeks and rivers are slightly-to-very stained. Lake surface temperatures remain in the low 50s. The Chattahoochee River below Buford Dam is clear. Check generation schedules before heading out to the river by calling 770-945-1466.
Bass fishing is good, and anglers should be able to catch a limit, including some good ones too. There are a lot of smaller fish roaming the banks, but anglers looking to score big fish may want to look off the beaten path.
There is a healthy population of largemouth bass biting in the off-colored water in the creeks and rivers up north. I suspect that anglers who target these larger fish will be the ones who can win tournaments.
Casting shallow-to-medium running crank baits like a SPRO Fat Papa or Little John will yield good results around docks, clay and rock banks and flooded wood cover. Slow down in prime locations and pick apart the cover with a small jig and Fighting Frog Trailer.
There are also a bunch of buck spotted bass roaming around docks and shallow water, and these fish are suckers for a shaky head. The bigger females are staging out deeper around areas like bluff walls, deeper brush and timber, and seem to prefer jigs or deep diving crank baits.
When weather fronts blow in, switch over to moving baits and cover water. The presence of bait is essential to find concentrations of bass, so keep an eye on your electronics and other clues like aquatic birds or shad and herring.
In clear water, throw natural-colored lures like chrome or clear finishes. In stained water, use brighter-colored lures like Sexy Shad, Crawfish and Chartreuse. I have been catching a lot of bass and stripers on a Morning Glory-colored SPRO McStick all winter, and this pattern has been very productive during the much warmer water we have experienced this year.
Striper fishing is up and down based a lot on weather patterns. It has been the general rule that on cloudy days the fish are shallower, and on clear, sunny days they move out deeper. Medium-to-large shad, herring and trout have all been working well. It may pay to keep a variety of sizes and let the stripers choose which one will work best on any given day.
This year the shad population has been very healthy, mostly because we haven’t really had weather cold enough to cause a shad kill. The good news is that when stripers are feeding on threadfin shad they will usually stay put in an area for a while, as opposed to when they are feeding on the faster-moving herring. Smaller baits like medium shiners have been very effective this winter because a lot of stripers are feeding on shad.
The birds are your first clue for where to fish. Gulls, loons, kingfishers and cranes all eat shad. When the birds are around, so are the bait and the predator fish that target it. Flat lines and planner boards seem best on cloudy days and down lines seem better on sunny days, but that is not always the rule.
Pay close attention to your electronics to give away the proper depth to fish on any given day.
Other methods have been working. Trolling umbrella rigs has been a good way to cover water and to locate and catching stripers. Umbrella rigs can often out-produce live bait. If you want to quickly learn this technique, book a trip with a reputable guide when the action is hot.
Artificial lures like a Bomber Long A, McStick or a SPRO Buck Tail are all good options both during the day and also after dark. The stripers are their biggest in early spring, so now is one of the best times to catch a trophy on Lake Lanier.
Crappie fishing is very good, and there are a lot of fish biting in the creeks, rivers and coves. These tasty fish are also at their largest size in spring, and when you locate them you should be able to fill up a cooler right now.
The main task is finding the fish. Once you locate them, you can almost pick your favorite method and catch them.
Trolling, casting jigs or fishing crappie minnows below a bobber are all productive methods when you are around fish.
Make sure to watch your electronics and be sure you are fishing at the right depth. You can be over a jumbo school of crappie, but if you are not placing your baits at the right depth you are probably not going to catch a lot.
Brush piles around docks and close to creek ditches can be huge attractors for schools of crappie. Where there is one there are usually a hundred. The presence of shad is essential. Hal flies, crappie minnows under a float and even small crank baits are all worth a try.
Trout fishing remains very good, and the DNR continues to stock trout all over North Georgia.
Dry flies early in the day have been working well in the pools below the rapids. As the sun warms the banks, look for small hatches and switch over to dry flies in the afternoons.
It’s hard to beat live bait where permitted by law. Live red wigglers, Berkley Power Nuggets and corn fished on a bottom rig are all good options in spring. Use light line and a quarter ounce split shot with a small Aberdeen style hook placed a foot or two below your sinker.
Inline spinners or small minnow imitators like a Yo Zuri Pins Minnow or Countdown Rapala are all good choices. Fish these small minnow imitators with a slow and steady retrieve and impart an occasional jerk to triggers strikes.
Bank Fishing: The bass have been relatively shallow this winter, and fishing for them has been good. You can easily catch bass from the banks both on Lake Lanier and on Farm and Subdivision ponds.
Small lures like a straight tail worm on a shaky head, a curly tail grub on a jig head or even a small crank bait fished on light spinning tackle are a great way to get bites in early spring. Walk the banks and look for steeper drop-offs, rocky shores and trees lying in the water for the best results.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or visit his website at aldrichfishing.com or lakelanierfishing.info. Remember to take a kid fishing.