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Lake Lanier Fishing Report: Trout biting well in mountains
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Lake Lanier’s water level remains extremely steady at around 1,069.99 feet, or 1.01 feet below full pool of 1,071.

Water surface temperatures have remained in the upper 40s, even with the recent weather warm spell. 

Lake Lanier is clear to stained on main lake and is stained in the rivers and creeks. The Chattahoochee River is slightly stained below Buford Dam. Check generation schedules at 770-945-1466 before heading out to the river. 

Bass fishing has ranged from tough to great depending on where and how you fish. 

There was evidence of a shad and blueback herring die-off reported in some creeks, while others have not seen any dead or dying bait fish.

In the creeks where shad or herring were floating, most anglers cite the severe cold spell a week or two back, but it may be due more to the recent temperature swings. Either way, there are some bass and stripers gorging themselves on injured and dying baitfish in the backs of some lower lake creeks.

Some fish remain deep around and inside the timberlines, but we had a pretty decent warm spell where fish were up much shallower in the pockets. Some bass have appeared in small wolf packs of 3-7 or more pushing bait up against the banks. Most anglers would never see this if they spent all of their time out deep, but we anglers need to remember that there are always some fish up shallow no matter how cold or how hot the weather gets. These shallow bass are on the move and will surface then sound quickly.

If you can cast a SPRO McStick, Fish Head Spin with a five-inch Cane Thumper Fluke trailer or even a shallow square billed crank bait into the middle of these brief flurries of feeding bass, you may catch a big fish at any time during the day.

There have been a lot of deeper fish that will eat spoons, regular jigs or SPRO Buck tails out in Deep water at 55 feet deep, but the surprise this week was how many fish seemed to move in shallower into the 20 to 30 foot range where they have positioned on brush and ditch channels that have rocky steep banks close by.

These fish are almost acting like they are only a month away from moving into the spawning flats and this may be due to the milder weather. I think these fish and anglers are in for a surprise because I believe we have much more winter to come. Let’s hope I am wrong.

Striper fishing has been good for the most part. Make sure you find an active feeding area where the baitfish schools are being dive bombed by gulls and your Humminbird Side Imaging shows huge clouds of bait either shallow or deep. Set your live bait or umbrella rigs according to where you see the bait. 

My guy in the know, Bill Carson of Humminbird, mentions that they found some groups of smaller stripers out on the humps in the creek mouths down lake that would eat an umbrella rig equipped with buck tails that were trolled around 1.5 mph. These fish were up shallower on the humps less than 30 feet deep and he found them using new his high resolution ONIX Humminbird units this week. Even with fish finders this good, you still have to make them bite which Bill did rather well.

Running a spread of two down lines up in the front of the boat, two flat lines out back and a planner board set way out on each side has been an excellent way to fish when you are around the stripers. Blueback Herring or Native Gizzard shad have worked best because they are both natural bait for Lake Lanier stripers and for this reason they do not appear to represent any danger to stripers.

That is until they bite down on a Gamakatsu Octopus hook that is rigged through the herring or gizzard shad’s lips.
Not many things are more exciting than running bait lines for a while. Just about the time you almost nod off or get bored a huge explosion of water occurs on your flat or outrigger and line starts to scream off as the big fish pulls drag.

About the only thing more exciting is when one of the other rods also gets hit. Then a fire drill ensues as you and your buddies work the lines over and under each other in a subsequent attempt to keep the lines from getting snagged while not losing one or both of the fish. I guess you just have to be an angler to understand, but this action will even get a non-angler’s pulse to race.

Crappie: Some of the guides are starting report that they are catching some good stringers of fish, but they still say fishing is tough.

I saw one photo where Jeff Blair’s group “only” caught 54! I don’t know about you but that is a pretty good fish fry to me. Some of the crappie are grouped up thick in brush around 20 or more feet deep.

These fish must really be coaxed into biting. A small crappie jig tipped with a live crappie minnow or threadfin shad may work, but the secret is to fish very slowly.

These fish are there, but getting them to bite is a whole different deal. There are also some fish in brush up under docks but it is the same deal there too. Shoot a jig up under the dock and let it pendulum back through the brush.

Trout fishing is good and they are biting well up in the mountains, down on the Chattahoochee and other river tail races below lake dams in North Georgia. Wet (sinking) flies are working well drifted through the rocks and rapids.

Casting a Rapala Countdown or Yo Suri Pinns Minnow up stream and letting it drift down with a jerk-and-pause retrieve is also working well. Whether you fish flies or spin fish with artificial lures always remember that the biggest, strongest trout will always get the pick of the best positions in the river or stream. If you see a lone large rock above the rapids, you can bet the biggest baddest trout lives there.

Bank Fishing: The water is a super clear and beautiful blue right below Buford Dam. I live right around the section of the Chattahoochee between Buford Dam and Highway 20. This section is full of both newly released trout and hangover trout too. You and your family can access this section in a number of ways and you would be surprised how secluded it can be while only being less than a mile from the highway or busy roads.

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