Water temperatures are still hovering right around 50 degrees. The lake level has risen three quarters of a foot in just this last week and it should continue to rise with the early spring rains. Lake Lanier is at 1060.73 which is 10.27 feet below a full pool of 1071. Lake Lanier is clear on main lake and stained in the creeks. The Chattahoochee River below Buford Dam is clear. Check generation schedules before heading out to the river at 770-945-1466.
Bass fishing has been pretty consistent these past few weeks. The warmer-than-normal water temperatures for this time of year are certainly not hurting this action. We are still catching a mixed bag of shallow and deep fish on a variety of lures and techniques. We have even encountered a very shallow bite around rain drains and ditches, but we have mostly been targeting deeper fish.
I rely on my electronics when targeting these deeper bass. On almost every trip this past week we have been able to pick up a few bonus fish by dropping a worm, jig or spoon to the individual fish that appear as arcs or lines below the boat.
With today’s electronics you can actually see the fish, your lures and even the line on your screen. It is really cool to say to your fishing partner to “Watch me catch this fish” before even dropping a lure, then catching one seconds later on the initial drop. Once you see a fish on your finder, drop a jig head worm, drop-shot or spoon on top of them. If you see the fish, follow your lure to the bottom then you can bet they have either eaten your lure or at the very least are looking at it.
The good news is that you can find the bass grouped up in tight schools. When you catch one, you may be able to load the boat in quick order. The bad news, if there can be such a thing while fishing, is that you may need to put some seat time in your boat while searching for the best schools. In winter, spotted and largemouth bass will hang out suspended in timber or on the bottom in the deeper ditches. These groups of fish can usually be found in water that is 35 to 55 feet deep.
We are starting out our days by fishing moving lures like a Fish Head Spin, McStick or Little John DD around steeper banks with rock. Try to get your lures to make contact with the rocky bottom as a lot of the bites will come right after your lures bang into something. Work deep-diving crankbaits with a slow-and-steady retrieve and pause them right after they make contact with anything.
When using a jerkbait, try to impart subtle jerks mixed with a long-pause type of retrieve. Continue to use these moving lures until the bass quit biting. We often end up using the McStick jerkbait all day long on more active days.
Once the fish get less aggressive then switch over to a slower lure and retrieve to target the bass relating to deeper bottom or submerged timber. In winter, I will usually have my boat positioned directly over the area I am fishing so that I can see my lures and the fish on my graph. That being said, you can often cast out a drop-shot, jig or finesse worm and work them back to the boat with a slow lift-and-fall retrieve. You can also stair step these lures down the stepper banks or work them up and down through the submerged timber.
Stripers: The stripers have been on the surface in some of the upper and lower creek arms in the mornings and throughout the day. Follow the gulls and loons, and when you see them feeding you are in the right area.
Use live trout, bluebacks or medium shiners on flat lines or with a planner board around the coves midway into the back of the creeks. You can also cast a jerkbait or buck tail to any fish that swirl up on the surface while fishing your live baits behind the boat. Use a slow, steady retrieve and impart an occasional jerk or twitch to trigger strikes.
Trolling umbrella rigs and even their smaller cousin, the Alabama rig, has been working very well at times. We discovered that the stripers will attack these multi-lure rigs, and that they often out-fish live bait. Watch the birds and also keep an eye on your electronics.
A few stripers have been caught on down lines in the creek mouths, so keep an open mind and make adjustments as the fish dictate.
Crappie: Anglers in the know are catching both quality and quantity of these tasty pan fish this past week. The docks with brush, flats with stumps, and even the standing timber located in the mouths of spring spawning coves are holding fish.
Most of the crappie are schooled in tight groups, so if you catch one then stick around and see if you can get a few more before the action slows.
Small crappie jigs trolled behind the boat have been working just fair. The best action is coming from brush piles and submerged wood located 10 to 20 feet deep. You can find some shallower crappie too, but the deeper wood will hold the bigger schools.
Trout fishing below Buford Dam and also in the mountain streams and rivers has improved with the clearing water conditions. The water is well oxygenated, and trout like coldwater so get your spinning and fly-fishing rods ready.
Live bait like earthworms can work very well where permitted by law, but I prefer to use artificial lures like a Pinns Minnow or Rapala Count Down. Cast the small minnow imitators upstream and work them with a jerk-and-pause retrieve. Wet flies are working well during the warmer afternoons.
Bank fishing: Crappie are being caught while fishing from the docks, banks and around the bridge pilings this past week.
If you are proficient with fishing crappie jigs then you can do quite well. Cast these smaller lures out and work them back uphill on the steeper banks. Working a small jig with an exposed hook through brush takes some practice and you will lose some, but this method can be deadly for a bank angler.
The bridge pilings can also hold fish. Cast your jig or micro spoon to the pilings and let them drop vertically. Most of your bites will just be light.
You can also work a live minnow deep with a slip bobber. Target the brush and bridge pilings 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 email@example.com or visit his website at aldrichfishing.com.