Water temperatures are in the upper 40’s. The lake level has risen again and is at 1,058.16 or 12.84 below a full pool of 1,071.
The main lake water is clear to stained, and the creeks and rivers are stained in the mouths and very stained in the backs of the creeks. The Chattahoochee River below Buford Dam is stained.
Bass: The holidays are over and this is the time of year that the hard core bass anglers hit the water. When the water temperatures fall into the upper 40s, the fish tend to move deep, but they do bite well when you locate them.
My electronics are key tools. I spend a good portion of my day watching my Humminbird 989c with Side Imaging. I am not usually looking for actual fish. Instead, I watch to see where the schools of bait are positioned to give me an idea of the best location and depth to fish. Winter bass will hang around in the same places that bait is located.
Over the New Year’s holiday, we were still finding some shallow fish and there are still some there, but I have been concentrating on the deeper water from 30- to 50- feet deep this past week.
Fishing deep often intimidates people, but when the air temperatures get into the 30’s and lake temperatures drop below 40, you can often find bass concentrated in tight schools. We caught five in a row last week off one of the deep honey holes.
I fish a lot of vertical structure this time of year. Steep rock bluff walls are one of my go to areas in winter. You can find this type of bank structure all over the lake.
If these bluff walls have a creek channel or timberline with bait schools, then that is the perfect storm for catching. The bass have been positioned on different sides of these structures. The moving weather fronts can change conditions, so I use my front 858c graph to locate fish while I am studying my graph. I will often explore the bluff walls by stair-stepping jigs or a drop shot rig down these steep banks.
A lot of times, a single bite will give away a quality school of bass located somewhere down the drops. If I see fish directly below the boat, I can drop a spoon, drop shot or shaky head to catch them.
On windy days, explore the main and secondary points cast a McStick, Fish Head Spin of even a 1/2-ounce SPRO Bucktail to the banks.
Spotted and largemouth bass will move shallow on the days when fronts blow through. They will follow baitfish that are attracted to wind-blown banks.
The wind stirs up plankton, warms the water slightly and adds oxygen. All of this attracts the food chain. I also have had a few reports from friends who are working water as shallow as 10-feet deep for some nice bass.
A shaky head or jig seems to the weapon of choice.
Stripers: Fishing remains consistent and stripers are one of the main target species, especially in winter. A striper, or Rockfish, as they are referred to up north, is actually a saltwater species that travels into freshwater to spawn, similarly to a salmon. When lakes were impounded back in the 20th century people discovered that the stripers trapped behind dams lived and thrived in freshwater, but seldom reproduced. The Department Of Natural Resources realized that they could attract anglers, so many lakes were stocked with thousands of hatchlings and that process continues.
The Lake Lanier fishery is responsible for millions of dollars spent locally on gas, bait, tackle, food and boats.
This week, the stripers have continued to hit live trout, herring and gizzard shad on pulled behind the boat on flatlines and planner boards. Your electronics are essential for finding the productive areas. Loons and Gulls will be attracted to baitfish so areas with birds are also worth a closer look. I can see stripers really well when my Side Imaging is tuned in, but I mostly look for baitfish schools. A lot of stripers are located right next to the bank, and sometimes you will see them swirling on the surface.
Use planner boards to get your baits shallow. Keep a McStick or Bomber Long A ready as these long slender lures can entice some ferocious strikes from shallow stripers.
Crappie: Not many crappie reports are happening, but they can be caught. Crappie may be found at varying depths all over the lake in winter. Someone fishing in the rivers may find crappie in 5- to 15- feet deep, while we have actually caught them on jigging spoons in the 30-foot range. They do tend to concentrate into tight schools in winter, so if you catch one make sure to mark that area, slow down and work it thoroughly. Live crappie minnows on a downline or crappie jigs with a live minnow are your best lures.
Trout are biting below Buford Dam on live worms on a bottom rig. With the recent rains, a live worm is a good bet no matter whether you are on the river or up in the mountain creeks. Just make sure to check your local regulations and switch over to artificial lures where required by law. The mountain creeks have been fishing well and the recent rains have helped these creeks a lot this winter.
Bank Fishing: Bank anglers have also been catching a few by floating bait on a slip bobber or using live or cut bait on a bottom rig. Live trout seemed to be out producing everything else at Mary Alice Park last 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. Contact him at
firstname.lastname@example.org or visit his website at aldrichfishing.com.