Water temperatures are rising and we found 51-55 degree water in different locations, which are more like March water temperatures. The lake level continues to improve every week and Lake Lanier is at almost 1,063 feet, which is only eight feet below a full pool of 1,071.
Lake Lanier is clear on the main lake and stained in the creeks. The Chattahoochee River below Buford Dam is clear. Check generation schedules before heading out to the river at 770-945-1466.
Bass: Bass fishing is very good and Lake Lanier's spotted and largemouth bass are biting a variety of lures. We actually caught a couple of good spotted bass on a Red Fin topwater this past week, which is not normal for February. Our deep bite has slowed a little and I think the bass are starting to move up because of the unusually warm weather. This means that a lot of the bass population is in what I call the "tweens" or in-between deep winter areas and the more shallow spawning areas.
There are a bunch of buck bass and a few three-pound females moving into the beginning of the coves and on docks midway back into the entrance of these coves.
Target docks that are in close proximity to deep water. Most of my better bites have come at the side or end of isolated docks that are on the points toward the outside of long pockets.
Our best lures have been the SPRO McStick, Little John DD, deep-diving crankbaits, and a shaky head with a Big Bites Cane Stick or Finesse Worm. I have been playing around with the new Alien Head jig head and am quickly switching over to them because they are great for skipping under docks.
The main lake is holding some bigger spotted bass, but the bites are coming a lot slower than in the creeks.
Target secondary points in the creeks with a McStick, Rouge or Fish Head Spin.
On the main lake, use a jig-and- pig combo or try the other moving lures mentioned above on windy banks and keep moving. The run-and-gun pattern can be very good, but only if you have a milk run of very specific areas.
The good areas consist of big brush piles from 20- to 30-feet deep that are near dropoffs, bluff walls with some kind of cover or even deep-water docks near the points.
Almost every main-lake point has brush on it, but not every one of these areas holds good fish. I feel the big Wal-Mart BFL tournament next weekend will be a slugfest between big spotted and largemouth bass.
It will take 20 to 25 pounds to win. That is a five-fish limit of four-plus pound fish and that is a great day in any bass anglers' eyes. Stop by and say hello at the weigh in after 3 p.m. Feb. 18 at Laurel Park.
Stripers: The reports of striper fishing are also good, and we are catching several a week as a bi-catch while fishing for bass. Most of the stripers I have caught have been on McSticks or the Alabama Rigs, so you can bet the guides and other line side anglers are catching them well, too.
There are always some anglers who are struggling while others are loading the boat with ease. Even the best anglers struggle, even while those with less experience may be catching them easy.
Anglers in the know understand that this is why we call it fishing and not catching, and that slow days are just part of the sport.
Pulling live trout and bluebacks on flat lines, planner boards and also downlines are all working well in different areas of the lake. Use your fish finder or watch the gulls and loons to determine the proper depth, and set out your live bait lines according to what nature tells you for that particular day.
Stripers move around a lot, or sometimes they stay put in other areas, so be willing to adjust and move if needed.
One very good search method is trolling an umbrella rig.
A four-arm, medium-depth umbrella rig equipped with SPRO Bucktails, or other brands of jigs or swim baits, can be a great way to cover water. These rigs often produce fish better than live bait.
Artificial lures are my preferred fishing method now for all species, but I grew up and learned Lake Lanier by fishing live bait.
There are some decent stripers being caught by beating the banks in the back of the creeks with bucktails tipped with a shad style trailer and also on Bomber Long As, McStick and even v-waking Red Fins. I have heard no reports on the night bite, but I bet it starts earlier this year.
Crappie: Crappie fishing is very good, and the big ones are biting.
Both the female and male crappie are fat with eggs or shad, and the average size has been between 1/2- to 1-pound which are the perfect size for eating. Trolling, or ‘lake raking,' is working best.
Troll small crappie jigs or micro spoons on 2- to 6-pound test at around 1-2 mph. When you get a bite, pay attention to the color, style and depth that you are getting the most bites and adjust your offerings accordingly.
Trout: Trout fishing is also better than usual for this time of year.
Fly, spin or live-bait fishing are all working well. The fish below Buford Dam will bite a Rapala or Rooster Tail, along with wet flies, or live earth worms where permitted by law.
The fish are being stocked in some streams in the mountains and soon on the river, so if you can get out after the DNR stocks them, they will all be hungry, stupid and easy to catch.
Bank fishing: Bass, stripers, crappie, catfish and even walleye can be caught from the banks right now. Target areas off the main lake and use a variety of lures as described in the above reports or try fishing cut bait on the bottom for stripers or catfish. Here is a secret that many anglers don't know: Boat ramps are great places to fish. Guides and anglers alike often dump their live bait out when they are pulling out, and the fish have learned to hang around for an easy meal.
Just make sure you give the boats plenty of room and be aware that most docks at ramps are for loading or unloading boats only, so find the first point outside or the ramp no wake zones and tap into these lesser known honey holes.
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.