Lake Lanier Fishing Report January 11 2019 | Sponsored by Hayes Automotive
Finally, we have had a few days of no big rain dumps. Water conditions are beginning to stabilize as the lake level begins to fall. The water temps are also falling after a couple cold fronts. We are now around 48 to 50 degrees, down from the low 50’s last week. Those temps are still slightly higher than normal for this date and the ﬁsh have been responding positively. The lake level is going down, 1073.41 as of Friday Am, 2.41 feet over full pool.
The Striper bite has been very good. Not quite as strong as in recent weeks, but very well worth a trip to the lake. The bite is fairly diverse. Fish are being taken on downlines, ﬂat lines, and trolling umbrella rigs. Overall, I think the deeper ﬁsh roaming around the bait congregations offer the most consistent bite. Free lines and planer boards are also producing some ﬁsh, depending on the situation. To locate can ﬁnd the deep bait, look in the drains and coves dumping into the creek channels. If you go into the middle or upper parts of the lake, look for the drains adjacent to the river channel, or over the actual river channel. Bends in the channels are also good areas to search. Once you ﬁnd the bait, do a sonar search until you see ﬁsh, even if it is only a few, then set up a bait spread.
Trolling an umbrella rig is a really good way to search these areas and still be ﬁshing, it is an effective way to cover big volumes of water. Once you locate ﬁsh, if they are less than 35 feet they will probably be quick to take the rig! If they are on the deep side of 35 go to the live bait spread. Herring are still good baits, but the smaller baits like Threadﬁn Shad or just medium Shiners are also a good choice. Be sure to keep at least one Mini Mack umbrella rig in the bait spread as well…more on that later. Keeping a free line or pitch bait in the spread may also be worth a couple of bonus bites.
If you are in the upper parts of the lake, especially in the stained water, baits on the free lines and planers will produce well. You may or may not physically see the ﬁsh, but there are good numbers of ﬁsh cruising the shallow water. Keep a planer tight to the bank and casting a 3/8 Super Jig while you are pulling the baits will catch some of the bank runners that you can’t reach with a planer. Watch the birds, there is some surface activity, especially early and late, and the casting and shallow presentations are effective if you get in this situation.
Lots of questions about ﬁshing the Mini Mack, in a nutshell, treat it like a down line. Look at the sonar, determine the best depth and drop it down. At that point you can leave in the holder, just like a down line, or put it behind the planer. I have been pulling it on the trolling motor. If I had to pick a number, .8 MPH has been my most productive speed. At that speed, it ﬁshes almost vertically. With that said, if you have out 30 feet of line the rig is about 25 feet deep. Of course changing speed will change depth, so factor that in accordingly.
Bass ﬁshing is good. “Moving” is the word, as we have experienced many changing water conditions and rising/falling water. When the lake level jumped up, the ﬁsh came up with it. We have good numbers of bass using shallow structures such as rock, blown down trees, and docks to name a few. Groups have been hard to come by. High saturation and covering plenty of water was key, but the ﬁsh would bite when you found them. One of the biggest challenges was ﬁnding the structure, with the lake almost 4 feet over full at one point, the visible structures we are targeting are not visible!
Remember side imaging is huge asset for locating the above mentioned areas. Basically pounding the banks was the technique, with moving baits such as crank baits, spinnerbaits, and jerk baits all being productive, jigs and worms if you need a slower presentation. Now that the water conditions have moderated, and the muddy water has become stained, use that to your advantage.
Crappie ﬁshing is ok. The changing conditions have probably had more effect on the Crappie than other species. The amount of ﬂoating debris, pine needles, sticks, leaves and an assortment of other ﬂoating things, make some places very difﬁcult to ﬁsh. Hopefully that issue will improve as the lake is drawn down. The elevated water levels caused a lot of movement, and now with the lake falling expect this to continue. Find the best water conditions, that would be a combination of water clarity and temperature to maximize the bite.
Many of your go to places may not be holding ﬁsh, so use the sonar/side imaging to ﬁnd the current hot spots. Docks are the primary structures, 20 to 30 feet is a good depth to target. Some baits to try are the Crappie Country #1 and 10 patterns if you have good light, the #11, and #13 if you have darker conditions. The Bobby Garlands in Key Lime, Pearl, and Monkey Milk paired with a 1/16 oz jig head have also been productive baits, along with a live minnow under a slip ﬂoat or on the down line!
Good Fishing! Capt. Mack