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Lake Lanier Fishing Report: Trout fishing can be profitable in mountains
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Lake Lanier’s water level is 1,070.43 feet or .57 below full pool feet of 1,071 feet above sea level.

Lake temperatures have dropped drastically into the mid 40’s on the main lake and even as low as the 30’s in the rivers and backs of the creeks. The lake is clear on the main lake and in the mouths of the creeks are stained. We even have some thin ice in the backs of the creeks and up in the rivers.

The Chattahoochee River is clear below Buford Dam. Check generation schedules before heading out on the river at 770-945-1466.

2015 Bassmaster Classic: Many local bass anglers will be driving an hour and a half north to Greenville, South Carolina to watch the Super Bowl of Bass Fishing. The 2015 Bassmaster Classic is Friday-Sunday.

With the cold temperatures this week, it will be a welcome trip to witness some of the best anglers in the world compete in the brutal cold. It will be very interesting to see how the BASS Pros handle these tough conditions. There are many ways to check out this event and there are many other cool events happening at the same time.

Just Google ‘2015 Bassmaster Classic’ to find activities. There are plenty of ways to keep up on things without leaving town by watching from your computer too.

Bass: This past week, the bass fishing has been tough with the crazy cold winter weather and winds. Water temperatures plummeted into the mid 40s on the main lake and colder in the creeks. The bass are very inactive.

Even some of Lanier’s most knowledgeable anglers would have struggled this week but most have more sense than to venture out in this cold.

That being said, the bass are always biting for someone, somewhere on the lake and the catching may get better sooner than you may think.

This next week may warm up enough to allow some of us to venture out without having to break ice or dealing with the ramps freezing.

Let’s talk about what may work so that when you decide to go again, you will be prepared. Look for the extreme cold weather to cause a shad kill. When water temperatures take a dive, like they may during an extreme cold spell like we are experiencing, the shad and blueback herring can take a hard hit, causing a large die-off.

You can tell when this happens by a number of clues. Gulls will divebomb individual shad, so instead of seeing large flocks diving in one area, you will see smaller groups of 1,2 or more birds randomly flying over the lake picking off individual shad that are dead or dying on the surface.

Look for individual dead or dying baitfish on or just below the surface. There are so many shad and bluebacks that they can easily be seen by anyone in a boat or walking the banks.

Work a spoon, Fish Head Spin or even a SPRO Buck tail slowly down deep around timberlines, bluff walls or deep offshore ditches from 40-60 feet deep.

Hop the spoon or buck tail slowly and adjust the action until you trigger a bite. Bass will also relate to the deeper docks.

Fish a jig head and Big Bites finesse worm dipped in JJs Magic. Don’t be afraid to fish deep on the bottom, under these docks. Fish still relate to this cover, even thought they may be 50 feet or more deep under them.

Try dead sticking a McStick 110 on the deeper bluff walls. These jerkbaits will mimic a dying blueback herring but a slow jerk and long pause will be needed.

You may only catch 3 or 4 keepers on any given bait, but the ones that strike the McStick will be bigger than average.

Also consider a Float N Fly rig. Look for BBZ1 Phat Fly on the Internet for some pointers and videos. There are also some big largemouth in the rivers relating to cover like stumps and laydowns. Flip a jig into this cover a drag it slowly along the bottom.

Stripers fishing has been slow and the stripers have been down deeper in the creeks. Most are keyed into the large schools of shad and some may also be targeting any dying shad or herring.

Check out around main lake timberlines or deeper ditches or channels. Also check out humps with baitfish.

The stripers should not be too far away. Look for these fish to be deeper and watch your graph to find the arcs or long wavy lines on traditional 2D imagining or switch to Side Imaging and watch for the fish shaped white ovals around clouds of baitfish.

If you locate the deeper schools of herring, use a live blueback or trout on a downline. Drop your baits just above where you are marking fish. Trolling an umbrella rig rigged with Captain Macs or SPRO Buck Tails around the deeper fish may outproduce live bait this week. Fly Anglers have also been picking off a few stripers that are shallow eating the dying shad.

Here’s a Funny but true story: Years ago when I was younger and dumber (but maybe not?) Ken Sturdivant ran a 50-cent per call 511 fishing hotline. I frequently called it and he usually had accurate lake conditions and reports for bass and stripers. One particularly cold weekend the weather called for record lows around 5 degrees and highs in the teens.

I was not going to let a little cool spell spoil a day of fishing, so I called to get the report and was actually annoyed when Ken’s report for the weekend was ‘Stay Home.’

He went on to talk about the record lows and say that it would be a good weekend to do boat repairs and re-spool our reels. Most anglers would have said that was actually good advice, but I truly wanted a report so I went anyway.

The guy at Hammond’s looked at us funny when we requested a dozen trout but we just thought how great it was that we didn’t even have to wait in line.

After launching the boat, my buddy and I shivered and constantly cleared our rod guides and were getting ready to come to our senses and leave.

I had noticed that a gull was flying into the cove across from Little Hall every minute or so but I never saw any fly out.

We rounded the corner to witness a huge acre of stripers swirling on the surface. The gulls were diving and we started to catch them on buck tails, Bombers and even the live bait we were pulling.

We kept four fish and the smallest was 18 and the largest was 22 pounds (back then I ate a lot more stripers than I do today). We released several others over 15 pounds. At the time, it was one of the best days of striper fishing we had ever had during the day.

Crappie fishing has been decent but some adjustments may be necessary with the ultra-cold weather and water temperatures. Use your Humminbird Electronics’ Side Imaging to find the brush, bait fish and crappie schools from 15-25 feet deep.

Fish very slowly in the deeper brush when targeting crappie this week. Drop or slowly troll a small 1/16 Hal Fly or other style crappie jig, tipped with a minnow and work these on very light 2-4 pound line through the brush. The lighter line will help you to get your lures down deep.

Trout fishing has actually been good in the mountains. The weather may be cold but some of Georgia’s trophy streams have been producing very well, even the coldest days of winter.

Fish mostly wet flies and very small artificial lure like a 1/16-ounce Rooster Tails or even an obscure lure like a YoSuri Snap Beans. When spin fishing, use very light 2-4 pound test in clear natural streams.

Trout fishing below Buford Dam is just OK. Some anglers are getting their limits, but it has been taking most at least a four-hour trip. Live red wigglers on a bottom rig have been working best where live bait is permitted. If you are spin fishing, try some of the lures mentioned above that are used in the Georgia Mountains.

Bank Fishing: It has been cold outside but there is one overlooked species of fish that fights hard, grows big and tastes great when cooked in batter and grease: Catfish. Add to all of this that these fish will bite on the coldest of days and it’s hard to beat a day of catfishing.

Thread some large night crawlers on a medium-sized Gamakatsu Bait Hook, pinch a 1/2-ounce split shot a foot above the hook and worms and cast it out around banks that have a creek channel, ditch or just a river bend, let it sink, secure the rod. Use a good rod holder.

You can make one from PVC and just hammer it into the clay. Whether you are fishing on a farm or subdivision pond, a local river or creek or Lake Lanier, you are bound to catch a few catfish or other specials 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 esaldrich@yahoo.com or visit his website at aldrichfishing.com.

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