Water temperatures are in the mid 60s. Lake Lanier’s water level is holding steady around 1065.84, which is 5.16 feet below a full pool of 1071. Lake Lanier is clear on main lake and mostly clear in the creeks and coves with some muddy areas from boat wakes on the weekends. 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 good and they continue to bite a variety of lures. These reports may sound like repeats from previous weeks but that is because spring is a great time to bass fish and many different methods will work.
Pretty soon the fish will go into a post-spawn mode. A lot of bass this past week were still shallow and spawning. If you see a stump, rock or other underwater cover, cast a worm, crankbait or small topwater plug to it and hold on.
Polarized sun glasses are essential tools for this type of fishing and I wear mine year round. They really help me to see fish, minor nuances and underwater objects that may hold fish. There are some male bass shallow protecting their newly hatched fry (baby bass), and there are also some little and big bass up the banks trying to eat bream, shad, bluebacks and even other bass fry. Given the opportunity, bass become cannibals when they find small bass fry.
I noticed signs this week that the bluebacks are spawning. We caught some big spotted bass out around main lake islands with SPRO McSticks, Bomber Long As, BBZ1 six-inch slow sink, topwater and even some fancy custom swimbaits. Topwater plugs in the morning, and even throughout the day, have produced some post-spawn spotted bass.
We took one afternoon and slowed down and worked a steep clay bank that had trees down in the water at a 45-degree angle. We cast ¬-ounce jig heads with a six-inch Shakin’ Squirrel Worm into the laydowns, and I worked the worm up and through the branches of the laydowns, while my friend in the back of the boat worked areas in between the laydowns and caught about the same amount of fish. I always use the lightest line I can get away with, and fluorocarbon is more sensitive and durable than monofilament, so I feel it is the best choice for worm fishing. I go as light as five-pound fluorocarbon for worm fishing.
The striper fishing has been hit or miss depending on who you speak with, but most reports are very good. Stripers go through a false spawning run in the rivers, and that should be red hot right now for anglers who can navigate the faster shallow rivers. Use large gizzard shad or trout in the Chestatee and Chattahoochee Rivers to catch some strong current-oriented line sides. This same action goes on in smaller scale in the lower lake feeder creeks.
There are plenty of fish down lake midway into the creeks that are starting to take advantage of the blueback spawn. We are in the beginning stages of the spring striper topwater action, so keep a Redfin or McStick tied on and ready to cast because the stripers can surface at any time during the day. When a quarter acre of schooling stripers appear on the surface many anglers get too excited and make mistakes. Backlashes, miscasts, or even not having a lure or proper rod ready are all results of not being prepared. When I say keep a lure tied on, I usually have that lure and rod in a place where I can quickly get to it and cast it. I have to constantly remind myself to take a deep breath before making a cast. Many anglers who do everything right and land a lure in the middle of the action make the mistake of working the lure too fast or too slow, so I pretend I don’t see any fish and just reel the lure like I would if I were just beating the banks. These simple tips will greatly increase your success.
Live bait is always a good choice for stripers, and blueback herring will work very well both up and down lake in the mouths and back into the creeks. Start your day pulling several flat-lined bluebacks around sandy areas just off main lake or even out around the islands. Place a quarter- or half-ounce split shot about three feet above your hook on the flat lines and experiment to locate the stripers. As the sun gets up, the flat lines should still work, but have a down-line rod or two set up in case you see them deeper on your graph.
Crappie fishing is good. My buddy is shooting his Micro Spoons and small 1/16-ounce crappie jigs under pontoons and docks. He is a master at getting a small lure into places not many anglers can hit.
If you want to shoot docks but have not practiced, you can try out locations without docks and set up a test course before attempting the docks. It will save you many snagged lures, plus it is a courteous thing to not mess up people’s boats or docks with miscasts. Crappie minnows set a couple of feet below a bobber will work very well around shallow laydowns, brush piles and bridge pilings.
Trout fishing is about as good as it gets right now. The recently stocked fish are biting just about any small lures or live bait (where permitted by law).
We fished a day recently during which we anchored the boat above a set of rapids right below the Buford Dam Trout Hatchery. I could cast a 1/16-ounce white and sliver rooster tail into a small pool below the rapids and just hold the lure steady while the current spun the blades. The lure stayed in place and the trout would come out of nowhere and eat the lure. We caught about 20 out of that pool alone.
Small in-line spinners or a small gold and black countdown Rapala are good choices for spinning tackle. Wet flies or a double rig with a dry fly at the top with a wet fly dropper below will work well, too.
Bank fishing: Bream, bass, crappie and even catfish are all suckers for live night crawlers or smaller live earthworms. You can fish live worms on the bottom, under a bobber or you can cast them without a weight and catch suspended fish with a slow-falling worm — all from the bank of your favorite pond, river or Lake Lanier. You can catch worms by simply digging in good soil. Use a hook small enough so that you can bury the entire worm and limit your swivels or weights so as to make the most natural presentation possible.
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.