Water Conditions: Lake Lanier’s water level is on the rise with recent rains. The current level 1,070.60 or .40 feet below the normal level 1071.
Lake Lanier’s surface temperatures have ranged from 50 to 53 degrees but those temperatures may fall as the week after Christmas is forecast to be cold. The main lake and creeks are clear to very stained in the back from rain inflow. The rivers and upper lake creeks are stained to muddy from recent rain inflow.
The Chattahoochee River below Buford Dam remains slightly stained but has continued to improve. Check generation schedules before heading out to the river at (770) 945-1466.
Bass: Bass fishing has rated from good to just flat our tough this last week. Some bass have been up shallow but the vast majority of our local spotted bass population can be found deeper. We have been concentrating in water depths from 30-feet to as deep as 55 feet deep.
The ditch bite remains strong. The bass may move up shallower early in the day but this past week they have been staying deeper in the guts of the ditches most of the day. Start out casting an SPRO McStick Jerk Bait and fish over the ditches with a jerk and pause retrieve.
We have been concentrating on using bottom bumping lures like jigs, spoons and drop shot rigs for the better part of the day. This style of deeper fishing relies heavily on quality electronics that giveaway the best locations with bait and bass.
A lot of bait has been hovering from 30-feet or deeper. Often you will only see bait in the best areas as the bass can be stuck to the bottom where they are hard to view. When you find the proper combination or bait and bottom features that should hold bass, make a point to sink a spoon or drop shot even when you don’t mark fish. The bass are often there even when you may not see tell-tale arcs or wavery lines. Not every ditch channel will hold active fish so be prepared to move around a lot until you locate the best areas.
In addition to vertically fishing spoons or drop-shot rigs, we have been having some good luck casting jigs up into shallower water and stair-stepping them down steeper banks where rock, clay or sunken brush is located. My set up for deeper jig fishing consists of a medium-heavy action a Kissel Kraft Custom Rod along with a bait caster spooled with 15 to 20-pound Sunline Fluorocarbon. Some anglers may feel that this heavy line could spook the fish but there should be no worries as the fish don’t seem to mind heavy line out deep even in the clearest water.
If fishing deep is not your deal then there have also been some decent fish relating to docks from 15 to 30-feet deep. The best docks will be located close to deeper water where the bass can easily move from shallow to deep throughout the day. Use 1/8th Gamakatsu Alien Head rigged with either a Big Bites Shakin’ Squirrel or a Lanier Baits Straight Tail Fruity Worm. Cast or skip these lures and work them shallow to deep. When you get a bite pay attention to the depth and location and try to replicate that on other docks.
Stripers: Striper fishing has been good. The majority of stripers have been located from mid-way on back into the creeks and up in the rivers. Quality, modern electronics are important tools for locating the bait and the fish in deeper water. Loons and gulls will also be relating to the bait schools so pay attention to these clues to locate the most productive areas.
This week the stripers have been relating to the massive bait schools in 25 to 60-foot deep. Don’t even bother to set out your live bait lines unless you at least mark bait. Once you find bait the stripers should be close by.
Once you locate good looking water set out live bait lines. You can use your trolling motor or the wind to slowly cover water. Most of the fish have been relatively deep so down lines (weighted) will probably be the best method. That being said anglers should still consider setting out at least one flat line (unweighted) with a larger bait like a trout or gizzard shad. Planner board will allow anglers to offer a wider spread of bait lines which will increase the water you can cover.
Most of these deeper bait schools consist of small threadfin shad. Use medium shiners or small to medium-sized herring on your down lines to best match the size of the bait these stripers are eating. Keep moving until you locate the fish that are actively feeding.
Often you may see stripers on your graph that just don’t seem hungry. Some guides or anglers employ a method called “drumming” in this situation. This method employs using sound to activate the fish into biting. Use a long dowel rod or an old pool cue and strike it on the bottom of the boat every few minutes. Imagine what happens when you tap on a fish tank. The fish get startled and jump when you make a sound.
Crappie: The Crappie fishing has rated good and the fish are schooled up in tight groups relating to the bait schools in the creeks and pockets. Use a combination or traditional 2/D imaging along with Structure Scan Side Imaging to scan the most productive locations. Often you may not see many crappie directly below your boat so having a Structure Scan to see what is up under docks or out to the sides of your boat will give you a definite advantage over anglers that do not have this technology.
The crappie up north of Hwy 53 seems to be about 5 to 10 feet shallower than the fish that are down lake. The best depth up lake has ranged from 15 to 25-feet while the fish down south seem to be relating to water from 20 to 30-feet deep.
Shoot crappie jigs or down line small crappie minnows and allow you jigs or minnows to sink down to the depth where you mark fish. Be prepared to get snagged because a lot of the fish will be inside the brush piles.