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Lake Lanier Fishing Report: Bass will continue to bite late in the day as weather cools
Lake Lanier
Lake Lanier as seen from the air in July 2017. - photo by Nick Bowman

Lake Lanier is above normal pool at 1,071.86 or .86 feet above full pool of 1,071. The CORP is dropping the lake quickly and the level may have fallen even more by the time you read this report. Lake surface temperatures are around 50 degrees with some warmer water in the backs of the pockets. The colder weather should drop temperatures, but not too quickly.

The water quality is improving on the lake but there are still plenty of stained areas. The lake below Browns Bridge remains clear in the in the creek mouths and stained in the backs of the creeks. The upper lake creeks are stained in the mouths and very stained in the backs and the rivers are very stained. Check generation schedules before heading out to the river below Buford Dam at 770-945-1466. 

A reminder of our free Seminars: West Marine in Buford with be hosting two free seminars. Call 470-202-1052 for details and directions.

On Tuesday, there is a free striper and bass fishing seminar from 6-7 p.m. 

On February 26, there is a free electronics seminar. Factory reps will be there to help customers with GPS, mapping, finding fish and much more.

Bass fishing has been tougher in the mornings but it’s been better during the warmer afternoons. The past week’s record warm temperatures have made winter fishing feel more like late February or early March. The water should retain some warmth, even with the colder weather coming in.

We have been starting out in the morning fishing slow moving lures like shaky heads, drop shots rigs and jigs around ditches and drains that feed out from shallow flats. The bass are wanting to move shallow, but the shorter days are still keeping them deep. These early morning fish are in depressions from 20-35 feet.

I have relied on my Lowrance Carbon units to “video fish” these deeper bass. Keep a drop-shot rig ready at all times while working a jig or shaky head down the sides of the depressions. Use Sunline Fluorocarbon and a sensitive rod like my Kissel Krafts Custom Rod, so that you can feel the deeper bites. A lot of these fish are migrating in from deep water later in the day. 

In the afternoons, it’s been crank baits working best. The fish have been biting on rocky banks with sun shinning on them. Wind has been a plus. Crank a mid-to-deep diving lure like a SPRO MD or DD through the rocks. The secret is to fish slow and steady. When the lure hangs up, just stop reeling and it will usually float free of the obstruction. If not, use your trolling motor to get on the other side to pop it free.

With the cooler weather forecast for this upcoming week, these patterns may change but not by much. Hit the water and go catch some fish.

Striper fishing has been good. We continue to see stripers shallow in the mornings and all day long on cloudy days. On sunny days, the stripers can be either shallow or deep. Use your Lowrance electronics to show you where the fish are located and keep moving until you find them.

Flat lines and weighted flat lines have worked well this week with the warmer weather. Down lines are still working too. Be prepared for all conditions. Look for fish and bait in the pockets and pull shad, herring or smaller trout around the areas where you mark fish. 

Keep a trout shallow on a planner board that you can run close to the bank. This will often produce larger fish. In my experience, stripers over 20 pounds run alone, away from the schools of medium-sized fish.

This tip is from my buddy Mack Farr. If you see a lot of fish on the screen, drop a Captain Mack’s Mini Rig down through the school and reel it through the school to trigger a bite. These fish are eating herring and shad that are schooled up in tight and this smaller umbrella rig will be hard to get through a hungry school of stripers.

Trolling Umbrella Rigs is also a great way to cover water while looking for the schools that you can drop bait to. Run your boat at around 2 mph and watch your graph while trolling your lure. If you have a down rigger, set it to 15 or 20-feet and slow troll a SPRO McStick.

As mentioned last week, I rely heavily on my Lowrance Carbon’s Structure scan to see fish that are outside of the standard two-dimensional sonar cone. Structure scan can give away a big school of stripers that anglers would normally miss and that Carbon 16 screen is so big you can see almost everything with it.

Crappie: The crappie are relating to deeper docks midway back into the smaller creeks and also in the warmer pockets off the main lake creeks. Target docks that have brush set around them or that have holes in the Styrofoam floats where beavers have set up a hutch. 

If you are unable to use electronics, then a big giveaway is older docks with fishing rod holders.

Lowrance Structure Scan makes seeing the best areas much easier. Set your distance to 50 feet and to the left or right side only, based on which side of your boat the docks are located. Ride around the front of the docks to find the most productive areas to shoot jigs. 

These schools are easy to see and look like multiple roundish dots.

Shooting jigs takes some practice. There are plenty of YouTube videos showing this technique. Before you snag your jigs on docks spend some time practicing by setting your garage door a foot above closed and practice shooting from your driveway. Make sure to cut off the tips of your hooks to prevent animals or yourself from accidents. 

Bank fishing: I recently saw a post on Facebook asking if there are any anglers who bank fish for catfish. While there may not be many, there probably should be more people fishing for “mister whiskers”. Lake Lanier as well as many farm and subdivision pounds have good populations of catfish.

Catfish are suckers for live bait and cut shad. You can net your own or stop by your local bait shop to acquire these catfish treats. Use the same tackle that you would for stripers. Fishing poles spooled with 12-20-pound Sunline Natural monofilament will work well. 

Either place a large split shot above your hook or use a Carolina Rig (a sinker, swivel and two-foot leader) and use a No. 3 Gamakatsu Octopus Hook. If you are using line bait, hook your minnows through the lips. If you are using cut bait hook it directly in the middle. 

Cast your lines to channels or the deeper parts of the ponds and lakes and secure your rod. A piece of PVC pipe with a diameter large enough to hold the handle of your rod and cut the other end at an angle. Hammer this into the bank, secure your rod and wait. These fish can vary in size from 1 pound on up to over 30 pounds, so be prepared for a great battle.

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 readers so please email him at esaldrich@yahoo.com Remember to take a kid fishing.