Lake temperatures are in the mid to upper 40’s. Lake levels are 1,056.6 feet and rising and the lake is 14.4 feet from the full pool of 1,071 feet. The main lake is clear to stained and the creeks and rivers are slightly stained to muddy.
The Chattahoochee River is clear.
The bass are on the move, and fishing is getting better for anglers that can unlock the early pre-spawn patterns. Target the first docks on the outside of major spawning coves. Some isolated docks are holding schools of fat, pre-spawn, spotted and largemouth bass, and these fish will feed when you locate the right ones. Other docks are void of fish.
It may take some searching, but once you figure out the right pattern you can move to other coves and find similar areas that are also holding fish. Skip a Zoom Finesse worm dipped in JJ’s Magic, rigged on a SPRO K-Finesse or Spot Sticker Jig head up under the floats and watch for your strikes to occur on the decent. Most of the time you will engage your reel only to discover a fish has already taken the bait. Skipping lures up under docks takes some practice but it’s well worth the effort.
Small crank baits like a Rattle Trap, SPRO Aruku Shad, or a Bomber Fat Free shad in shad patterns will produce during active feeding times, in the mornings and at dusk. Spinner baits and other offerings may also produce a few bites.
You may also be able to catch some large aggressive bass on windy main lake banks. The wind will warm the water and it also increases oxygen content. This in turn brings in the bait, which draws in the predator fish. Fish these windy banks with fast moving baits like buck tails, spinner baits and crank baits.
If you are fishing with your kids, or you just want to have a productive day stop by Hammond’s and pick up a couple of dozen crappie minnows or medium shiners and fish them three-to-four feet below a bobber. Live minnows around deeper docks with brush will produce both crappie and bass right now.
The striper report is brought to you by Shane Watson Guide Service and Hammond’s Fishing Center.
Everything is about the same with the stripers. We’ve run trips north and south since my last report and found stripers and surface temps in the middle 40’s.
We are supposed to have warm weather for the next two weeks and the surface temperatures should get back up into the 50’s. Down south we are seeing small groups of boiling stripers in pockets from the mouths to the middle of south end creeks. If you can hit these fish in the head, they will bite a lead head fluke or a flex-it spoon.
We have also caught fish down south on free-lined medium shiners and bluebacks. Mid-lake you will find stripers in the usual, popular wintertime creeks. During the week when the boat traffic is lower, we have had great trolling at times in there. Down south, expect to cover a lot of water and the loons are a distraction.
Up north the creeks are much shorter, but the fish can move in and out quickly. Our boats have found fish up north some days in the very backs of stained creeks and the next day they will be out in the main narrow channels. Up north we have done best on downline medium shiners, u-rigs, and beating the banks with buck tails. Some days, the fishing has been wide open both in the north and south. Some days, they have been easy to find but finicky and harder to catch.
The key thing right now is to keep moving until you get on some fish. Downsize your leader and hook sizes and use smaller baits for now. As the surface temps warm over the next two months, you will see the bigger trophy size fish up shallow, roaming banks, points, and on shallow flats. When the water gets back up in the 50’s, pull big trout, big gizzard shad, and bigger bluebacks with planer boards and on free lines.
Fishing is really picking up and, like with the bass, there are some large schools hanging around deeper docks that contain brush.
Shoot small crappie jigs or Micro spoons up under these docks and reel them back with a slow and steady retrieve. Live crappie minnows fish on a downline or under a bobber around submerged wood will work very well this week.
Trout on the Chattahoochee
Fishing is starting to pick up below the dam and the DNR will start stocking plenty of newly raised trout over the next couple of months as spring arrives. These hatchery-raised fish are very gullible and most have never even seen hooks or a lure.
Berkley power bait, corn or live earthworms (where permitted by law) have been the most productive. Small inline spinners and small crank baits will also be productive. Fly-fishing will also work very well on warmer afternoons as the small insect hatches occur.
Eric Aldrich is a part time outdoor writer, bass fisherman and a member of Humminbird’s, SPRO, Gamakatsu and Hammond’s Pro Staff. Reports are based on personal experience and permission from a close network of friends. If you would like to email him please do so at firstname.lastname@example.org.