Welcome to April on Lanier! The fishing is generally very good, however, the weather changes can be frequent, and that has been the case since the first of the month. The long term weather forecasts indicate that the last week of April will offer more of the same, so pick your days accordingly as you plan your trips to the lake. Lake levels are staying above full pool levels with abundant rainfall, and as of Thursday evening Lanier’s level was 1072.10, 1.10 above full pool. That is .10 feet below last weeks level. The Surface temp is 64 degrees, which would be very near average for this date.
If you are targeting the Stripers, the bite is good overall, but perhaps changed from recent weeks. Early or late, or fishing during the night is probably offering the best activity, with the fish being somewhat sluggish somedays in the mid day hours. Some of this is a reaction to the Striper/Herring Spawn, which has begun, but based on what I have seen is not full on quite yet. Watch for this activity, it will usually occur at first light, and normally they will be on rock of some sort. Find this and you will probably have fish with it! If you can locate the bait fish spawn, live baits on flat lines/planers, should be quick to get the bite. While you are pulling the baits cast something to the bank. A topwater, a swim bait(the Sebile Magic Swimmer is the standard for this bite)a Keitech on a lead head, are all good choices for this application. You may find that casting is more effective that bait fishing, with the exception of pitching live bait, just because it is so precise. If you are out early be prepared to capitalize on this situation when it occurs.
Speaking of pitching Herring, I have had plenty of inquiries about that bite, as it was absolutely crazy at this point last year. It is a viable technique right now, and is the go to method for night time fishing on the lights, but slow to develop during the daylight hours. I think the fish are more scattered than they were during April of last year, and the Herring spawn is not as strong so far. I’ll keep you updated on this pattern next week’s report. Free lined Herring, with some down lines mixed in are also producing, keep mobile and be prepared to fish a variety of depths and structures as the fish are using a wide depth range. Adding a small split or two to the free line may be a big plus, especially in the wind.
Trolling is also good, and is really beneficial with the wind, which based on the extended forecast that is a viable consideration upcoming week. Both with the Mini Mack and the full size rigs are producing well, although the applications are different. The Mini seems to be best on the stealth troll, and it will be beneficial to keep one mixed into the Bait Spread. You can fish them as a flat line or behind the planer, pulling them at around .5 MPH. Basically, treat it just like a live bait, some days they will take the Mini Mack just as quickly, or more so, that the live baits. It is also very effective to cast at schoolers, or in the above mentioned bait spawn scenario. Trolling the big rigs revolves clipping 20 to 25 foot points, or humps in the same depth range. Keep the rig around 15 to 20 feet deep, and both the Shad body rigs or the Buck tail rigs are effective, 2.5 to 3.0 MPH is the optimal speed.
Bass fishing has been very good, and the biggest challenge is still selecting the right bait on a given day, and the right structures. With plenty of fish on the banks in relatively shallow water, the range of effective baits is very broad. The Flukes rigged weightless or slightly weighted are a very consistent producer, as are spinner baits and jerk baits, the latter two best with some wind. Small Swim baits like the Keitechs are doing well, and a Finesse worm or Senko on the Weedless Wonder is consistently accounting for good catches. Top waters are also effective, and I expect those baits to become stronger as the water warms. I had a good bite Wednesday casting the small Chug Bugs over 5 to 10 foot stumps fields in the back 1/3 of the creeks, not many big fish but good numbers. Don’t rule out fishing a little deeper, as we have fish showing up on deeper points and main lake humps as deep as 20 to 24 feet.
As the off shore top water bite emerges, one bait many bass fisherman may be underutilizing is the Cordell Redfin. The Striper guys consider it a staple, but it is also an extremely effective Bass bait, especially for the big Spotted Bass. Simple to fish, cast it to the targeted structure, usually a hump or point, and use a slow retrieve v-waking the bait across the surface. That is the easy part, the difficulty occurs when a tank of a Spotted bass, or a group of big Spotted Bass start busting all over the bait! You will want to set the hook on sight, and as hard as it is, don’t do it! Keep retrieving the bait with the same cadence until you feel the weight of the fish, then set the hook. Often the fish, or fishes, will miss the bait, often repeatedly, but will generally stay with it until they get hooked up. The only exception I make to that regimen is when you have fish busted all over the plug, but you have retrieved the bait right up to the boat. Stop the bait and let it lay there until the fish gets it. It takes nerves of steel sometimes, but it is a very effective, not to mention a very entertaining way to catch fish! I prefer the 7” inch Redfin, it is much more castable than the 5” model, and it’s added buoyancy makes it much easier to keep it on top making that nice v-wake. It will also catch the attention of a Striper if he is around, which most consider a plus. If you want to see how it works, I have some video on my You Tube Channel of the Redfin, showing how retrieve it with that signature v-wake pattern.