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Warm streak leads to Spring conditions
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Water temperatures are still holding steady at around 50 degrees. The lake level continues to improve and Lake Lanier is at 1,062.6 which is only 8.4 feet below a full pool of 1,071. I predict we will be at full pool in two months if the spring rains come as usual. Lake Lanier is clear on main lake and stained to heavily 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: The Bass fishing has been awesome for anglers that fish several times a week, while some of the weekend warriors are either doing well or struggling a little. February is one of the best time to catch a trophy spotted or largemouth bass. The bass are feeding heavily in preparation for the spring spawn and the female bass are full of eggs. These factors increase a fishes’ size. These pre-spawn bass will roam around in different locations both deep and shallow. Keep an open mind and let the fish and your angling style dictate the most productive way to fish.

The shallow water bite continues to be very good for this time of year. You can fish the docks and catch a limit of keepers in a few hours. We worked docks earlier this week and were able to pattern the fish because all of our bites came from 5-to 20-feet deep on the shady sides of the docks. Most of our bites came on the initial fall of our jig head worms, but we also caught our better fish between the docks on Jigs, Little John Deep Diving crank baits and McStick and McRip jerk baits. 

Often landowners will sink brush on the sides of their docks, so make sure to tap into these lesser fished areas in between.

There is also a good deep bite happening off the deep bluff walls and also out in the standing timber from 30 to 50 feet depths. These deeper bass are bigger than average sizes so they are worth a try. Your electronics are key tools when targeted deep water bass. A lot of the time you may not see the actual fish, but you can target the deeper ditch or creek channels to locate fish holding structure and the cover on that structure. Use a Jig, Spoon or a dropshot rig and fish directly below the boat while paying attention to your graph. Side Imaging will greatly increase your ability to see and mark the spot on the spot.

Stripers: The warmer water is allowing the stripers to roam both shallow and deep. Some anglers are reporting catching good fish in less than 10 foot deep next to the banks with live bait on planner boards, while others are fishing down lines from 15 to 30 feet deep for the fish that are off shore. The stripers are active and are scattered everywhere from up in the Chattahoochee and Chestatee River on down as far as the back of Baldridge and around the Dam.

Most of the fish I have seen have been toward the back of the creeks and also in coves off the main lake. These fish will eat a variety of live bait and lures. The gulls will give away the shallow fish while the loons and gulls may give away fish down below the surface. I watch the birds a lot because they eat shad and blueback herring that areas driven to the surface by feeding stripers.

Many guides and avid anglers work a flatline and planner board combo. The average rig consists of running two flatlines (just a hook and baitfish with no weight) directly behind the boat, while also using a planner board out to the left and right of the boat. 

This set-up gives the angler an advantage by covering a much wider area, plus the planner boards get the baits up shallow where stripers’ coral bait against the banks. 

This set up also allows those same anglers to cast lures from the front of the boat.

If you locate your stripers deeper than a downline may work best. 

If you see arcs or wavy lines and bait below your boat, you can quickly drop it down to the exact level where you mark fish.

Whichever method you use make sure to secure your rods in quality rod holders. 

I remember one day while pulling live bait behind my Jon boat as a teenager when a big fish ripped the rod, reel and even my cheap rod holder directly out of my boat. My heart sank as I watched it skip across the surface before it sank but it was a valuable lesson.

The Umbrella Rig bite has also been very good this winter. Select a rig with Bucktails or Swimbaits that will run 10-to-15 feet deep and run your boat at around 2 miles an hour. 

Once you catch a fish trolling, then make sure to go back over the same area several times before moving on.

Crappie: Crappie fishing is actually very good, but you may have to work some deeper areas. Some of the crappie may be located in as little as five feet deep, but most of the better fish are 10-to-15 feet deep. Continue to troll crappie jigs tipped with a live minnow or Micro Spoons directly behind your boat.

Trout: Trout fishing is decent below Buford Dam and in the Wildlife Management Areas. Continue to use earthworms where permitted by law or 

Rapalas, Rooster Tails and Mepps Spinners near the rapids. 

Rapids provide both oxygen and a little heat and this is where a lot of trout will remain in winter. Fly fishing with Midges or Gnats is working fair on the river and up in the mountains.

Bank Fishing: Crappie fishing around the bridges and docks with brush toward the back of the creeks is good right now. Keep an open mind and if you don’t get a bite then move a little down the bank until you find the honey hole. 

Once you catch one there should be plenty more in the same area.


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 or visit his website at

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