Lake Lanier’s water level is up slightly again from last week at 1,066.23, or 4.77 feet below our normal full pool of 1,071. When spring rains arrive, we should get back to a normal pool quickly.
Main lake surface temperatures remain in the upper 40s. The main lake and creeks mouths are mostly clear. The creeks, pockets and rivers are clear to slightly stained, while the Chattahoochee River is clear. Check generation schedules before heading out to the river by calling 770-945-1466.
Bass fishing has been a little slow both literally and figuratively.
That being said, the patient angler can score a limit if they slow down their lures and target high-percentage areas. Soft plastics, jigs, drop shots, crank baits and jerk baits have all been in my rotation of tackle.
Always try to take advantage of the early morning bite. As the sun starts to illuminate the lake, fish will be active shallower in the ditches and around bluff walls. This is the time to fish your favorite moving bait. Lures like a SPRO RkCrawler, McStick, underpins with a Suicide Shad trailer or your other favorites are good choices to work shallow at dawn.
A ¼-ounce, stand-up jig head with a craw imitator like a Big Bites Fighting Frog has been good for catching a limit in my Nitro this week. I dip the claws in red and chartreuse JJ’s magic to match the orange appendages of the crawfish I see inside the fish we’re catching.
Crawfish start to move in late winter, and the bass on Lake Lanier take notice. Both spotted and largemouth bass love a lobster dinner, and crawfish provide a lot of protein as the fish feed before the spawn.
Drag your crawfish imitators or jigs around docks with brush that have both shallow and deep-water access close by. A steep bank allows bass an easy place to move from shallow to deep quickly. Brush piles are a big plus because fish will often congregate around sunken cover.
If you locate a prime brush pile, work your jigs very slowly through the branches and allow your lures to sit still. Bass will often ignore faster-moving jigs when a slow offering will frequently trigger bites.
Always keep in mind fish don’t read fishing reports. Bass can often be found around shallow cover in the backs of the creeks, and largemouths are feeding heavily as they bulk up for the spring spawn.
Casting shallow-running crank baits close to spawning flats can be very effective, especially when water temperatures rise into the 50s. We are very close to this time, and sunny, warmer weather will often trigger fish to move shallower.
Striper fishing: The stripers are biting OK in the creeks as well as out on main lake points timberlines, but the action has been a little slow.
As mentioned above, a slow presentation may be best. This doesn’t mean your baits themselves shouldn’t be active, but your boat should be moving just barely enough to keep your baits aligned properly in the strike zone.
Dragging live bait on both flat- and down-lines has been working OK both in the creeks and rivers as well as on main lake. Again, keep your drift as slow as possible. Medium shiners seem to be the best choice, but always add a blueback herring or trout in the mix. When the stripers are more active then herring, trout or even a gizzard shad may trigger a big bite.
Watching for actively feeding gulls and loons continues to be a great way to find stripers. That being said, my best friend told me once that the fish’s World War III can be occurring below the surface while all is calm above. This is why your electronics are so important.
Watch your units closely to determine the best depth. Side Imaging on my Humminbird unit has really keyed me into some fish that normal Down Imaging or traditional 2D views. With Side Imaging, you can cover 120 feet to the left and right of your boat and see schools of fish you would never detect without it.
If you encounter a feeding frenzy, then get out your artificial lures like a spoon, buck tail or SPRO McStick and cast into the frenzy. Work these lures slowly and steadily, and hold on.
There have been very few reports on the night bite, but stripers are probably feeding around lighted boat docks in the creeks. Cast SPRO McStick 115s, Bombers or Redfins in these same areas.
Crappie fishing remains slow, but patient anglers can still catch enough for dinner. The best bite has been early in the day and again in the afternoon.
Continue to shoot jigs under docks with brush and watch your line closely for any small “ticks” that indicate a bite. Vary your retrieve between letting them fall and working them through the brush, or engage your reel and let them sway like a pendulum back to the boat.
Trout fishing is decent, and most of the rivers and creeks are clear.
When water conditions are good, the fish will bite better. Just remember to use light lines and lighter leaders under clear water conditions. Live bait, wet flies and spinning lures continue to work well. so cast your offerings around the rapids and the deeper pools below them.
Bank fishing: Cut bait is a great way to coax bites from a big striper or even a big flathead catfish.
You can catch your own gizzard shad with a cast net or get your cut bait from your local tackle stores. Take a large shad, cut it in half and put it on a bottom rig with a sharp Gamakatsu Octopus Hook.
Cast live bait around deeper banks and river or creek channel bends. Use fairly heavy tackle with at least 14-pound Sunline Natural Monofilament. Secure your rods well with a PVC Rod holder because the strikes can be extremely hard.
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. Remember to take a kid fishing.