Lake temperatures are in the mid 40s. Lake levels are 1,056.7 feet and the lake is 14.3 feet from the full pool of 1,071 feet. The main lake is stained and the creeks and rivers are very stained to muddy from the recent rain. The Chattahoochee River below the dam is stained to clear.
Special note: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will resume accepting applications for daytime fishing tournaments at Lake Sidney Lanier. This is because the lake levels are rising and it’s a huge blessing in many ways. Fishing tournaments affect all aspects of our local economy by increasing sales of gas, tackle, restaurants, food and much more.
Local fishing tournaments also raise more than $100,000 in proceeds every year for charities like Childrens Health Care, The March of Dimes and many more.
The spotted bass fishing remains slow this week with the cold water temperatures, but keep an open mind because the bass are getting ready for spring by feeding heavily on shad, bluebacks and crayfish.
Warming trends can trigger these fish into biting better and spring is only a short time away.
Target spotted bass in depths of 20-to 30-feet around deeper banks with rock and clay or off-shore structure. Anglers in the know rely heavily on ultra sensitive fishing rods and low-stretch, high-sensitivity fishing lines like fluorocarbon to feel these light deep-water bites. Don’t forget those sharp Gamakatsu Hooks. It’s worth it to invest in quality fishing tackle if you are serious about catching fish. Stop by your local tackle dealers like Hammonds Fishing Center and ask about the best set ups for your style of fishing.
Drop shot rigs, Texas or Carolina Rigged worms and Jig and Pig combinations are all good suggestions for targeting deep bass. Pay close attention to your electronics and look for the telltale signs of baitfish and larger arcs that indicate predator fish. Some anglers will position their boats directly over the fish, while others will cast to or from the banks, and work lures up or down the drop offs. Both methods work well, but the best success has been in the 25-foot range. The spotted bass that are being caught are fat and healthy and this is the time of year expect quality fish.
On warmer days or major feeding periods moving lures like crank baits, SPRO McSticks, Rooster Tails or a Fish Head Spin rigged with a Zoom Fluke will produce well in shallower water.
There are some reports of largemouth bass already being caught in water less than 10-feet deep, but the spots seem to be saying deeper.
Live bait is a great way to ensure success on tough days. Fish a live minnow under a slip bobber from the banks and set your depth at around 10-to 15-feet deep.
Fishing has been pretty good in the creeks and rivers if you’re proficient with trolling umbrella rigs. Target the clearer water or mud lines and troll umbrella rigs with SPRO Buck tails at around three miles per hour. Pay close attention to your Humminbird Fish Finders to determine the proper depth to troll your rigs.
Twenty-five-feet deep is a good place to start, as the stripers have been congregated in large schools from 20-to 40-feet deep. It’s always better to fish a little above where the stripers appear on your finder then too deep.
Stripers will rise up to eat lures but seldom move downward for a bait.
Both bank anglers and boaters are catching stripers with live bait. Medium trout, cut bait (gizzard shad are best) and blueback herring will all work OK this week. Look for the springtime bomber bite to get going when the water temperatures rise into the low 50s.
Fishing has picked up this past week even with the colder weather and water temperatures. These tasty fish are biting crappie jigs, Micro Spoons and Hal Flies trolled slowly at depths of 15 feet in the creeks. Use 4-to 6-pound lines and set you’re trolling motor down to the lowest setting possible. Docks and deeper brush piles are also holding crappie, so you can catch them with downlines or slip bobbers fished from the bank.
Trout on the Chattahoochee
Trout fishing is slow below the dam, but the DNR will start spring stocking very soon. Look for conditions to improve but for now, stick with live bait like earthworms (where permitted by law). If the weather warms there can be small insect hatches so try fly-fishing.
Eric Aldrich is a part time outdoor writer, bass fisherman and is sponsored by Humminbird, SPRO, Gamakatsu, Tru Tungsten and Hammonds Fishing and Boat Storage. 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.