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Lake Lanier Fishing Report: Unusually warm weather has made for abundant fishing
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Lake Lanier’s water level is right around 1,07.31 or .69 below the full pool of 1071. The water level should certainly rise a little with the recent rain. The main lake is clear, and the creeks and rivers are stained to muddy.

The lake temperatures are the mid to upper 50s. The Chattahoochee River below Buford Dam is very stained. Please check generation schedules before heading out to the river at 770-945-1466.

Christmas Gifts For Anglers: It’s getting close to Christmas and if you are reading this report it is possible you have an angler on your gift list. If you are shopping for a seasoned angler, it may be best to purchase a gift card as they will usually have specific needs that may baffle non-anglers. Even a $10 gift card will be appreciated.

If you have a teenager that wants to be a bass pro, reads every bass magazine and spends hours on fishing websites, consider getting them a gift card or a rod with a baitcasting reel. A local tackle store may be the best place to shop.

They can help you find a quality outfit in your price range. If you have a higher budget, consider buying them a gift certificate for a half or full day with a guide. It may cost a few hundred dollars, but they will learn a lot and this will usually cover two anglers.

If you have a child that is new to the sport, consider buying a medium light open face spinning outfit or even a Zebco 33.

The Zebco 33 is probably responsible for 50 percent of the fish caught by youngsters under 12 years old. For kids under 8, you may consider buying a theme style of fishing outfit like Barbie or Star Wars. These often come with small tackle boxes and a practice weight (with no hooks).

Bass fishing has been good for anglers that can remain versatile. Several patterns are producing, so you should be able to pick one that fits your own style well. Quality Electronics will greatly up your odds of catching bass in wintertime.

Not only does your sonar help you to see the fish, but a quality electronic topographical map like my LakeMaster chip will up your odds greatly.

As the holidays draw near, the weather conditions and water temperatures have felt much more like late fall or early spring than the week before Christmas. Anglers might reason that all of the bass should be up shallow. Some bass are shallow but the deep bite has also been good.

Air and water temperatures are not the only factors that affect our finned friends. Water oxygen levels, food supplies and shorter daylight hours also come into play. Fish seem to instinctively know that cold weather is right around the corner.

Because fish are cold blooded, they will take advantage of their higher metabolism rates to feed heavily before the real winter arrives and the water temperatures drop into the high 40s.

Three patterns seem to stand out this week.

The first pattern is to fish moving lures like crank baits, jerk baits or underspins around areas that have access to both shallow and deeper water.

Target ditches or bluff walls in the creeks and pockets. Usually, casting lures is most productive from sunrise on until mid-mornings, but don’t be afraid to experiment with these same methods during active feeding times. Cast these lures up into the middle of the ditches or make parallel casts next to the deeper bluff banks.

The second pattern would be to work bottom bumping lures like jigs or plastic worms around deeper docks and also out deeper from the same ditches and bluffs where you caught fish earlier that morning. Remember to think about how bass follow contours as they travel from deep to shallow than back deep again — The areas that we refer to as bass highways.

Use your electronics to key in on irregularities along these contours and take extra care to target rocks, brush or sharp depth transitions.

The third pattern that has been working very well is to hop a jigging spoon around deep off shore depressions where bass and other predator fish lie close to the bottom. These bass have been hanging out underneath bait fish schools.

The deeper areas of ditch, creek or river channels from 35 to 60 feet deep will often hold big concentrations of fish that feed on wounded bait fish that fall to the bottom. Bass will take advantage of these dying shad because it is an easy meal that takes very little energy.

Start out using a half-ounce Flex-it or Hopkins spoon and adjust your weight heavier of lighter until you find the best size. Pay attention to any shad these fish spit up and match that with your spoon size. You will often catch other predator fish like crappie, stripers and even tasty.

Striper fishing has also been good for anglers that are open minded. This is one of the warmest Decembers that I can remember.

The water levels have been close to full pool for a couple of weeks and water temperatures are at least five degrees warmer than is normal for this time of year.

This not only means that the stripers are more active, but that they also have plenty of water to swim around in. Keep watching the birds and your electronics to make sure you are in a productive area before setting out your live bait lines.
The striper fishing has been good both up and down lake. Stripers are feeding on a variety of baits, so it can pay to keep a few different options.

Herring, trout and shiners will all work well, but one may stand out better than the others depending on where you fish. If you are blessed enough to get out to the lake more than once a week then you may know what the fish are dialed in to. If not, ask a reputable tackle store and they should lead you in the right direction.

There are some big schools of stripers down in the mouths and coves of the creeks below Browns Bridge, up around River Forks and all they way in to Wahoo Creek, Little River and in the Chattahoochee and Chestatee Rivers.

Pulling herring, trout and gizzard shad on planner boards is a great way to catch the fish that are higher up in the water column.

The stripers can be found very shallow in the mornings and later in the day when the sun is up. On overcast days, they may stay shallow all day long. Set out a couple of planner boards along with a couple of flat lines and keep your boat moving as slow and natural as possible.

Using planner boards is a great way to spread out your live bait and cover a wider area of water. Running your planner boards will take a little practice so it pays to watch videos on YouTube, talk with other anglers and bait store employees.

If you are new to this method, consider hiring a guide. Being able to run your live baits bait up shallow close to the shore is an effective and fun way to striper fish. The memory of seeing a 20-plus pound striper explode on a live trout in five feet of water can create a memory of a lifetime.

If the sun is up and you are seeing deeper fish below the boat, then switch over to a down line and drop a bait to just above the level where you see fish on your depth finder.

Proper depth placement of your bait is critical as stripers seldom swim down to eat a bait, so it is much better to err on the shallow side. You can purchase a rod and reel with a depth counter but there are other ways to make sure your baits are hitting the proper depth.

Most modern day fish finders will allow you to actually see the sinker and live bait as it drops through the water column. You can also make marks on your fishing line with a sharpie before you head to the lake. Use a measuring tape and have someone pull your line out in the front yard. Use a single dash for 10 feet, a double dash for 20 feet, a triple dash for 30 feet and so on.

Stripers are also being caught on artificial lures and flies this week. Cast a SPRO McStick or a ¾ ounce buck tail with a Big Bites Cane Thumper trailer on medium heavy tackle to any fish you see on the surface. Trolling umbrella rigs or casting an Alabama Rig has also been fooling the line sides this week.

Crappie fishing has been good with this warmer weather. These tasty fish have been caught on a variety of crappie jigs or live minnows. The area where you fish will have a lot to do with how you catch them.

Trolling or “lake raking” has been working in areas where the water has a slight stain. With the recent rains, target areas in the creeks where the very stained or muddy water meets with clearer water.

You can set out several poles and stagger two different color jigs on each. Troll very slowly around boat docks with brush.

Once you start getting bites, fine tune your set up and switch to the most productive color and speed. Make sure that when you catch a crappie that you go back over that same area, as crappie will be found in tight schools right now.

Trout Fishing: With the recent rains the trout streams and the Chattahoochee River may be a little off color which may slow the fishing a bit. Once the water clears the bite will get better. Small wet flies or a double dropper (with a wet fly on the bottom and a dry fly on top) will be a good choice. Pay attention on warmer afternoons as there have been some small insects hatching. 

Bank fishing: Bass, bream and even catfish have all been biting well in subdivision and farm ponds due to the warmer weather. Carry a light-spinning rod with a Beetle Spin, Rooster Tail, small grub or a live earthworm below a bobber should all work well.

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. I would love to hear from our readers so please email me at esaldrich@yahoo.com or visit my website at aldrichfishing.com or lakelanierfishing.info. Remember to take a kid fishing!

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