Lake Lanier rose a little this week with recent rains and is at 1060.93, or 10.07 feet below the normal full pool of 1071. The main lake and creeks mouths are clear. The creeks and rivers are slightly-to-very-stained. Lake surface temperatures are still around the mid 50s, but they will probably drop to more seasonal temperatures when the colder weather arrives.
The Chattahoochee River below Buford Dam is clear. Check generation schedules before heading out to the river at 770-945-1466.
Bass: The bass seem to be enjoying the warmer weather as much as anglers are. You may need to change out the normal winter techniques during active feeding times and tie on lures that are more conducive to what you would normally throw in spring.
That being said, it also pays to know where the bass would normally be in winter and to target these locations during less active times.
I have been blessed with a couple extra days a week to just get out and fish. Usually when I take friends or clients, there is pressure to produce. Fishing alone allows an angler to slow down and really pick apart areas and find locations we may miss during our normally “run-and-gun” trips.
This is something I feel all anglers should do if their schedule allows. Spending a few hours in one area can eat up a day of fishing, but the unproductive times can tell us almost as much as we learn when we are catching them. This information can pay off for future trips for years to come.
We all seek out the holy grail or “spot on the spot” where you can just roll in, make a cast and put a limit in the boat in 15 minutes. The problem is that usually the only way to locate these epic areas is to spend time dissecting unproductive areas or to have a generous friend share the secrets they have learned.
The latter option puts you in an awkward position anytime your friend sees you jacking fish in “their” area. Google mapping and weekly fishing reports have great value, but there is no replacement for time spent on the water.
This week a lot of bass have been moving up shallow and are chasing baitfish in the mornings, evenings or during active feeding times. If you can land a jerk bait, crank bait or your personal favorite shad/herring imitator near active feeders, then you may catch a few in quick order.
Smaller jerk baits like a SPRO McRip 85 in clear chartreuse or chrome shad colors will produce a little better than the average-sized jerk baits this past week. Experiment with your retrieves as you may find a faster cadence, or even reeling steady will produce better than conventional pause-and-jerk methods.
When the bass quit hitting shad or herring crank or swim baits, go back over that same area with a smaller jig or a shaky head with a straight tail finesse worm. During the slower periods, you may find bass schooled up in more seasonally correct areas. Target steeper banks that have both shallow and deep water access close by.
Ditches with rock and timber from 20-to-40-feet deep can also be great areas to pick apart with slower presentations when the sun is high in the sky. A spoon or an underspin can also be hopped or swam closer to the bottom, in the timber tops or anywhere else where you see fish on your electronics.
Striper fishing has been great one day and tougher the next. Weather patterns have played a huge part recently, and you can almost make the call that flat lines will work better on cloudy days, while down lines or trolling are better during sunny conditions. This is not always the case, so pay attention to your electronics, the birds and other indicators of what the fish’s moods are.
Add into the equation that smaller herring or shiners work better in certain areas while large herring, trout and even larger gizzard shad have been the go-to baits elsewhere.
Start your day by loading up with a variety of baits. Several dozen medium-sized blue back herring, a dozen trout and maybe one or two dozen gizzard shad should provide you with enough bait and size options for the day. Lively bait is a must to ensure a productive day when the fish are biting.
Make sure you confirm with your local tackle store that your bait tanks are set up and running properly. There are too many other variables that you can’t control, but few things are as disappointing as being on fish without the right bait or lures to produce bites.
Setting up a proper spread of live bait lines can add to your success rates. Some of the guides I know are extremely competent with setting up multiple lines to cover water.
I find that two down lines, two planner boards and two flat lines will usually cover enough water to produce. I set the two down lines ahead of everything else to keep them from tangling, then the planner boards in the middle of the boat and two flat lines out back. This set up will cover water and you can switch out to the more productive methods once you get a few bites.
A lot of people ask about what type of hooks to use while live-bait fishing. Gamakatsu Octopus Hooks are one of the most popular and best hooks on the market. If you are using smaller baits like shiners or small herring, you can’t go wrong with a No. 1 or 1/0 size.
With larger herring or medium-sized trout you can’t go wrong with a 2/0, and for the larger trout and gizzard shad a 3/0 to 5/0 should cover your needs. When using the large trout or gizzards some people employ a small stinger treble hook to the back of the bait to catch fish that may not hook up on the front Octopus.
Fly fishing and artificial lures have been working well when you encounter active fish on the surface. A smaller streamer fished on an 8-weight fly rod has been a great option. Make small strips to impart a subtle swimming action to your streamers.
Jerk baits like the SPRO McStick or Bomber Long A are working well if you can land them near these active feeders. A ½ ounce SPRO Buck Tail will work almost year-round for stripers and bass on Lake Lanier. Trolling buck tails on a Mack’s 4-arm umbrella rig at around 2.5 miles an hour has produced some good action and will allow you to cover water to locate fish on less active days.
Crappie fishing has been good. It seems there are a lot of fish around docks in 15-to-30-feet deep water. While the water you fish may be that feet deep, the crappie can be positioned anywhere from the surface on down to the bottom. Shoot small crappie jigs under docks and use a colored fishing line like Sunline Hi Vis Siglon in three- or four-pound test.
Crappie anglers must be line-watchers, so be able to see a light “tick” when the fish eats your jig. Colored line will increase your odds and allow you to visually determine at exactly what depth you are getting bites. Once you find the magic depth, then you can zone in a little better and count your jig down quickly to the most productive depth.
Shooting jigs takes practice, and there are many YouTube videos that can teach you this method. Hiring a guide is a great way to quickly learn how to crappie fish, plus you can usually walk away with a cooler full of fish for dinner.
For anglers who prefer live crappie minnows, try a slip bobber or use a small down-line and get make sure your bait lands around productive docks. Tipping a jig with a live crappie minnow is almost always a good idea, too.
Trout fishing is decent both up in the mountains and down on the Chattahoochee River below Buford Dam. The DNR has been stocking fish in a lot of the streams and rivers, and if you can find an area that has recently been stocked you may be rewarded with some stupid, easy-to-catch trout.
These fish have never seen a lure, and stupid fish are a lot of fun to catch. It’s the smart ones that will frustrate us.
Rooster Tails, corn, Berkley Power Nuggets or live earth worms (where live bait is permitted by law) are producing plenty of fish. Both wet flies and dry flies are worming for you fly flingers. There continue to be some significant hatches in the afternoons, so when you encounter this, match the hatch.
Bank Fishing: Bass have been hitting live bait and lures from the banks of Lake Lanier. With the warmer weather, you can bet the bass will also be active in local ponds and lakes around our area, too. It’s hard to beat a plastic worm, and you can even try a live minnow under a bobber.
Cast around any shore-line cover, docks or banks with rock. There are plenty of bass located in less than 10 feet of water, and they should remain active for a while even if temperatures drop.
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. He would love to hear from his readers so please email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit his website at aldrichfishing.com or lakelanierfishing.info.