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Lake Lanier fishing report: Deep winter patterns prevail for stripers and bass
Lake Lanier
Lake Lanier as seen from the air in July 2017. - photo by Nick Bowman

Water Conditions: Lake Lanier is presently at 1,070.32 feet, or .68 feet below the normal full pool of 1,071. Expect that to rise with this week’s rain inflow. Lake surface temperatures are right around 50 degrees. 

The main lake and lower lake creeks are clear in mouths, but expect some stained to muddy inflow in the backs. The upper lake and rivers are slightly stained, but expect the same muddy inflow to cloud things up after the rain. The Chattahoochee below Buford Dam is clear at the dam and muddy down past Highway 20.

Check generation schedules before heading out to the river below Buford Dam at (770) 945-1466. 

Merry Christmas and Bass Wishes to our readers this Christmas! Count your blessings and I bet they will outweigh your troubles!

Bass: The past weeks warmer weather did little to affect the deep bite. In fact, we seldom caught a bass shallower than 35 feet this week. That being said, we didn’t fish shallow because the deep bite has been so good. 

Quality electronics — like my Lowrance Carbon 12 and 16 with good mapping — are essential to find the sweet spots out deeper. The bass have been both in the deeper ditches and also stretched across deeper flats where bait is present.

Find the bait and drop a spoon to any concentrations of fish you see. These schools of fish are often glued to the bottom, so drop on anything different that you see and the screen may light up with schooling fish. Our targeted depth has been 35 feet to as deep as 60 feet, with most of our bites occurring from 45 to 55 feet deep.

A drop-shot rig is a great second option for these deeper fish. Also try working a jig across flat bottoms as a backup to the spoon or drop-shot.

My favorite lure to use is still the jig, and it has yielded the biggest bites. I have been stair stepping this crawfish imitator down the sides of ditches from 35 to 50 feet. Ledges, bluff walls and steeper rocky banks have also yielded some decent bites.

Striper fishing remains decent to very good, and the guides have been catching them consistently on down lines from 40 to 60 feet deep. Not surprisingly, these are the same depths that the bass are being caught. That’s because it is the depth that most of the bait is located.

A down line is basically a Carolina Rig or a small Gamakatsu Octopus or Circle hook and long leader attached to a swivel with a 1 to 2-ounce sinker attached to the main line. I also like to attach a small plastic bead between the sinker and the swivel to protect your lines.

Herring and trout seem to be working the best, but I also suggest getting some medium to large sized shiners as an alternative if fish are present and you are not getting bites.

Use your electronics, and explore areas in the middle lake areas. Keep moving until you see bait and stripers on the screen. There are also some very big spotted bass roaming around with the stripers.

The second technique to consider while fishing down lines is a jigging spoon or a SPRO Bucktail. Watch your lure on your Lowrance Electronics, and keep it slightly above the level where you mark fish. Hop or jig these lures up and down, and you may get your arm broken as a big striper attacks your lures.

Also keep an eye out for diving gulls and loons to give away the best locations. These birds, in addition to your quality electronics, will help to unlock the secrets to the best areas.

Trout Fishing has been good directly below Buford Dam with the clearer water, even during hard rains. That being said, expect the rivers and streams to be blow out and muddy or stained with this weekend’s rains.

During high water periods use bright colored spinners and flies for your best results. It is hard to beat the old reliable earthworm if you are fishing trout waters that allow live bait.

Bank fishing: Fish in pounds, smaller lakes and on Lake Lanier often react to rain inflow because it washes bait and nutrients that attract minnows. Look around rain inflows and try bright lures that vibrate, like a Colorado Bladed Spinner Bait or a Rattle Trap.

Live earthworms are also a great choice, but try fishing them on the bottom rather than under a bobber. Other bait like cut shiners or even chicken livers will attract a variety of fish to your lines.

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. I would love to hear from our readers so please email me at Remember to take a kid fishing.