Water temps are in the mid 50’s. The lake level continues to drop about six inches each week and is right around 1,056.84 or 14.26 below a full pool of 1,071. The main lake is clear to stained, and the creeks and rivers are slightly stained. The river below Buford dam is stained.
Bass: While the falling water conditions cause property owners to move their docks, it also affects local tackle shops. Please help out our economy by patronizing your local tackle dealers. Fishing tackle makes a great Christmas present. The good news is that the lower water levels concentrate fish and make catching them easier. Plus, a lot of ramps were extended a few years ago when we had really low water levels, so we have plenty of access to the lake!
Bass fishing is good to great depending on who you speak with and how you fish. Thirty-to 50-feet depths are holding some really fat spotted bass, but many anglers are intimidated by fishing that deep. Just a note to the wise: I have caught bass as deep as 70 feet on Lake Lanier, and I actually have caught bass at more than 100 feet of water on a North Carolina lake, so don’t be afraid to explore those deeper depths. We have been running the ditches in the coves and creek channel that bottom out from 25-to 55-feet deep. The timberlines at that same depth are also holding quality-sized spotted bass. Several lures are working, but upsize your weights to keep these lures on the bottom. A drop shot rig with a Ú-ounce tungsten or lead weight on light Sunline Fluorocarbon has been one of my go to techniques. We have also had success dragging twin tail trailer jigs and stair stepping them down the drops. Sometimes it can be hard to keep a jig on the bottom, so you may try a lure with less bulk. A finesse worm or a Big Bites Fighting Frog trailer on a Ú-to ƒ-ounce jig head is a good option when you have a hard time keeping your lure down.
Jigging spoons have also come into play this week. Find the middle of the creek or ditch channels and look for bass or shad on your Humminbird Graph. You can often see the fish rise up to intercept your lure as it drops to the bottom. This is my favorite video game by far. A drop shot will also work well for this type of fishing.
There is a shallow water bite, and we have found that fishing shallow in the rivers or down lake during warmer parts of the day are best. Fish around docks in 10 to 25-feet and pick apart the brush piles with a jig head finesse or Texas rigged worm. On windy days, cast a SPRO McStick jerk bait or try spinner baits on wind blow points.
Stripers: There are some great reports of big stripers and also good numbers of these fish being caught recently. Late fall and early winter signal stripers to move into the shallow water. You can often see gulls diving on small shad that are corralled to the surface by feeding stripers. I watch the birds year-round. Gulls, loons, kingfisher and herons can all give away the best locations. Some professional anglers rely on fishing to make money, but these birds really do fish for a living. If we don’t catch fish, we don’t make a paycheck. If the birds don’t catch fish, they go hungry. You can bet they are good at it.
Most anglers are using live baits like blueback herring or trout. The flat lines in coves, creeks and up in the rivers are great places to explore. Rig a couple of flat lines behind and rig a couple of planning boards to get additional lines out to each side of your boat. This setup allows you to cover a wide path, which will increase your odds of catching a striper. Anglers on Lanier often encounter stripers swirling on the surface. A lot of times these fish are eating small threadfin shad and they will seem to ignore other lures. I have found a jerk bait or small SPRO Bucktail can work well in there situations. Another thing to try is to cast a large Bomber Long A to these surfacing fish. Even though the stripers are eating small lures, the Bomber seems to trigger them to bite. Trolling umbrella rigs is starting to be a great technique. I have witnessed experienced guides using these multi-lure rigs and are out producing live bait anglers. Troll your rigs at the same depth, or slightly above where you mark fish, on your electronics. If the stripers are concentrated in the same area, you may also want to cast an Alabama rig to entice these shallow stripers to bite.
Crappie: Fishing remains good for the anglers that can unlock the pattern of these colder water fish. There are several things you will need to put together to have a productive day. First, locating the fish is the key as crappie tend to school up in tight groups in the colder months. Also, fishing at the proper depth is essential, and that can change depending on where you fish. The lower lake crappie tend to be deeper at 15 to 30-feet deep while fish up in the rivers can be much shallower. Your electronics are key tools, so watch them closely to determine the best areas. Down line live minnows, or work crappie jigs slowly through the brush piles, for your best catches.
Trout: Fishing below Buford Dam is OK, but the water conditions are a little hit and miss. The water seems to clear a little after generation and gets cloudy again when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers quits pulling water. Be aware that I hear the discharge alarms very frequently lately, so check on generation schedules before heading out. Trout fishing in the mountains has been pretty good.
Bank fishing: Striper fishing is the most popular for anglers fishing from the banks, but don’t completely rule out other fish. Bass, crappie and catfish are all catchable from the banks. Target the steeper banks with rocks as these areas will tend to hold more fish. Live bait is hard to beat, but also try Rooster Tails, SPRO McSticks or work the bottom with a jig and pig.
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.