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Lake Lanier Fishing Report: Patience pays off with striper fishing
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Lake temperatures are in the lower 50s. The lake levels have risen a little in the past week and Lake Lanier is at 1,059.8, which is 11.2 feet below the full pool of 1,071.

Lake Lanier is clear on main lake and stained in the creeks.

The Chattahoochee River below Buford Dam is clearing up.

Check generation schedules before heading out to the river at 770-945-1466.

Bass: The colder weather we had this week has pulled fish back a little deeper, but we continue to have some good bass fishing from shallower-than-normal water for this time of year.

There are still some decent bass in less than 10 feet of water, but for us the majority of the fish have started to migrate into the ditches and out into the 15- to 30-foot zone.

Even though some fish are deeper, you may still have a decent shallow-water bite first thing in the morning and during active feeding periods through the day.

My No. 1 go-to bait is to jerk-and-pause a McStick 110. I have had days when cold-water fish have come up from 20 feet or deeper to strike this wounded-looking jerkbait.

You can fish jerkbaits with a medium or slow-and-steady retrieve to catch fish, but this time of year a jerk-and-pause retrieve works best.

I feel that the bass see this erratic action then notice the bait standing still and they can't resist eating them. Other moving lures like crankbaits, Fish Head Spins or even bucktail jigs are also worth throwing, especially in the mornings and on warmer afternoons.

While most people prefer to catch active fish, the best method for numbers right now are soft plastics and slow-moving jig combinations.

I like to stair-step a jig with a curly tail trailer or a Finesse Jig Head rigged with a finesse worm down bluff walls with rock or transition zones like where sand meets clay or where clay meets rock.

I always dip my baits in scent to increase the time that the fish will hold on to a bait, because these winter bites can be very light.

Target areas with steeper banks this time of year, and if we have a warm, windy afternoon, pay close attention to those windblown banks as fish will move up to feed in these areas.

If the weather is colder and stays that way, look for fish in the deeper ditches from 30 to 50 feet deep and use a jig-and-pig or hop a jigging spoon vertically over fish you see on your electronics.

Striper fishing is mostly good, but you may need to cover some water to find the active schools. The lower-lake creeks as well as the upper-lake creeks and rivers are all good areas right now to fish.

Some days the fish will be midway back in the creeks and other days they may relate more to the shallower coves.

The best method seems to be a draw between shallow live-bait fishing and trolling the umbrella rigs with the live bait producing the bigger fish.

Once you find the fish with your electronics or by seeing gulls diving, put a trout or blueback herring on a flat line or planner board and drift or troll slowly through these areas.

There are also some fish that can be found swirling on the surface, and these stripers will strike a bucktail jig, McStick or even a rooster tail slow rolled through these feeding fish.

Crappie fishing reports are slow, but you can bet I know one angler who catches these tasty fish while sitting inside his boat house with the heater going. He has set out Christmas trees over the years and the crappie congregate under his dock.

He has been tipping a crappie jig with a minnow and pulling some nice stringers out of the brush piles below his deep dock from 12 to as deep as 20 feet. Fish your jigs slow this time of year.

Trout fishing below Buford Dam is just fair but some anglers are catching them. Continue to use small jerkbaits and use a jerk-and-pause retrieve.

Live earthworms (where permitted by law) are a great go-to bait in the winter. Trout are cold-water fish and they thrive and eat in water temperatures that would normally shut down other species of fish.

Bank fishing: This report may pretty much stay the same for most of winter, but the bank fishing for stripers is decent this time of year.

You can use live bait under a slip bobber or try using cut bait and fish these offerings on the bottom for a trophy striper and the occasional big catfish!

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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