Lake Lanier’s water level continues to be higher than normal for this time of year at 1,07.32 or .68 below the full pool of 1071. The main lake is clear and the creeks and rivers are stained to very stained. The lake temperatures are in the mid-to-upper 50s. The Chattahoochee River below Buford Dam is very stained. Please check generation schedules before heading out to the river at 770-945-1466.
Bass fishing has improved. The unusually warm weather and the higher water levels have made it hard to stick to any particular pattern. Recently we had a cold spell but this past week the weather has rebounded close to record highs. Anglers have been catching them both shallow and deep and all depths in between.
This past week the majority of bass we have caught have come from depths less than 30 feet deep. During active feeding periods we have caught fish on moving lures like crankbaits, jerkbaits and spinner baits. During the less active times a finesse worm on a jig head or dropshot or a standard jig n’ trailer combo have been the best producers.
A lot of factors come into play when trying to determine the active feeding times. Certainly you can look up the major and minor feeding periods based on sun and moon phases on your cell phone, but other factors include generation schedules, weather fronts, wind direction and even boat traffic. The old folks used to say if the cows were sitting down in the fields that the fishing would be tougher. I feel that paying attention to animal activities is a good indicator. Birds singing, squirrels moving and deer roaming the banks are all positive indicators. When these clues coincide with the water generation or weather fronts it usually means the fish will be on the move and that you can fish a little faster.
Remember that this is just my opinion and that bass don’t read these reports so they often go against the rules.
Start out your mornings in the shallower ditches that have deep water access close by and work a deep diving crankbait or jerkbait and move frequently to take advantage of the early morning feeding times. You may hit two or three areas without getting bit only to arrive at the next spot to catch several fish. The morning bite has been good and this action can continue well into the day, especially if it is cloudy out.
This week we have been hitting main lake points and humps with deep diving crankbaits, finesse worms and jig n’ trailer combinations. Try to locate the brush piles and drop offs and worm these areas thoroughly with your lures. You can often hit your best areas several times a day, as the bass will replenish in the right areas.
Start your day around shallow ditches both on main lake and also back in the creeks and up in the rivers around ditches or troughs. Cast an under spin, middle to deep diving crankbait or your favorite jerkbait up shallow and retrieve them directly through the middle of the ditches. If you can find ditches that have docks, lay downs, brush or rock piles then all the better. My lures of choice have been a Fish Head Spin with a Jerk Shad or Cane Thumper trailer, SPRO Little John DD or a McRip 85. Choose colors that mimic shad or herring.
After the sun gets up over the horizon the fish seem to pull out deeper so find the humps and points in 15-to-30 feet deep and drag a jig or drop shot around any key features in these locations. It helps greatly if your can find the key brush piles and other features ahead of time so you can maximize your time on each area.
Other techniques and locations can also be good and I heave heard of anglers catching spotted and large mouth bass on spoons in the deeper channels, skipping jig head worms on the dock. Anglers have been reporting success on just about every method except top water lures which, believe it or not may also work. I have caught many bass in winter on a jointed Red Fin so keep an open mind.
Striper fishing has been good and as mentioned last week they are biting on a variety of lures and bait in locations both shallow and deep.
I always keep an eye out for three different types of birds to give away the best locations – gulls, loans and my Humminbird electronics. God provides us with some excellent indicators of fish activity in the gulls and loons. These birds absolutely must catch baitfish to live and they have to do so while expending the least amount of energy to survive. Because of this you can bet these flying fish finders will be in the best locations.
Early in the day and on over cast days the stripers can be found very shallow just about any where there is boat. There have been a fair amount of stripers on main lake but the majority of these fish seem to be feeding in long pockets off the main lake and in the coves and creeks. Use your electronics and keep moving until you find the tell tale arcs or wavy lines that indicate fish before you set out your live baits or make cast with your lures.
Trolling an umbrella rig has been working OK but it is a great way top fish while covering water. You may even discover that it is also the best method on any given day but live bait seems to be working better this week. Set out one or two umbrella wigs equipped with SPRO Buck Tails tipped with Cane Thumpers or Hyper Tails and troll between 1 and 3 miles per hour. Try to run these multi lure rigs at around 15-to-25 feet behind the boat.
Once you locate a good school of fish it is tike to set out live herring, bluebacks, trout or gizzard shad. If the fish are up higher in the water column run either planner boards or flat live or a combination of both. It is important to keep you boat moving very slowly when fishing these methods. Only move as fast as necessary to keep your planner board out to the sides or your flat lines behind the boat.
On cloudy days the flat line/planer board bite may last all day long. On sunny days the shallow bit may still work but in most cases the stripers will pull out deeper around 20-to-40 feet deep. Keep and eye out for birds and your electronics to determine the best depth to fish.
Many anglers prefer to catch striper on artificial lures. My best friend, who passed away years ago used to give me a hard time for even fishing with live bait. He used a fly rod almost exclusively and some days I would out catch him while at others times it was he that came out on top. Fly-fishing with streamers can out produce any other setup when stripers are feeding on small shad. I must admit there are few things more satisfying than catching a big striper on a fly rod!
Crappie fishing seems to be hit or miss but you can often catch some of your biggest fish of the year in winter. Target areas that have stained water in the creeks. Work a crappie jig through isolated brush piles in 10-to-25 feet deep. Also consider using a small or medium shiner on a light rod with 4–6-pound test and place your bait slightly above or even in the brush. There are also some fish relating to docks, especially on sunny days that will bite small jigs or minnows.
Trout fishing has been fair below Buford Dam plus you will need to check generation schedules. The corp has been pulling a lot of water, but the fishing is decent during slow water periods. Just about any methods including live worms, spinning tackle and fly-fishing has been working during the slow water flows.
Fishing has been good up in the mountain streams and you may catch some big hold over trout in the winter. Check out georgia-outdoors.com for some great reports and helpful hints before heading out to your favorite waters.
Bank fishing: There are plenty of fish biting from the banks on your local water due to the warmer than usual weather. Take a spinning reel with a small box of your favorite spinners, small crankbaits or even some live baits and hit your local ponds, rivers or Lake Lanier. You will catch a mixed bag of bass, brim and maybe even a striper this week.
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. I would love to hear from our readers so please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit my website at aldrichfishing.com or lakelanierfishing.info. Remember to take a kid fishing!