As we adjust to a new normal, I hope you and your family are weathering the storm with minimal effects and everyone is healthy. These are some incredible circumstances we are enduring and I hope that we can return to somewhat of a normal lifestyle, whatever that will be, in the near future. Until then, the mandates issued by the Governor do not prohibit fishing if you follow the Social distancing requirements, so get out there and fish! The bite is good, and while the weather forecast indicates some rain and a return to seasonal temps into next week, the weather is more good than bad so get out on the lake and get after them! Our tackle shops remain open and are making efforts follow the guidelines for the protection of their employees and the fisherman, so respect those conditions, be patient, and enjoy your time on the water! The surface temp as of Thursday was 69 degrees, the lake level was 1072.18, 1.18 feet above full pool.
Striper fishing is good, and if there is a down side it is the fish are all over the lake using multiple patterns. Live baits are probably the most consistent producer, both on flat lines or behind the planers. Shad are also very viable baits, again as a flat line or behind the planers.
The fish may be over the open water, or in a creek back, or flats adjacent to the creek or river channels. We have a few Gulls and Loons still hanging around, watch them to help locate the fish, especially the fish over the channels. Don’t be hesitant to run your planers up on the bank, there are some fish really shallow on the flats and in the creek backs. If you are over deep enough water, keep the Mini In the Spread, it is also been a consistent producer. The Mini is also very productive on any surfacing fish you see, Stripers or Spotted Bass. A run up either river will be well worthwhile as both the ‘Hooch and The Chestatee are producing good catches. Once you are up there, live baits on the planer and free lines will get the bite, if you are not casting a buck tail or a fluke you will miss out on quite a few bonus bites!
We also have a very good umbrella bite that is getting over looked. Pulling the full size rigs over humps and points, targeting 20 to 30 of water, has been a solid technique. Nothing special about this pattern, pull around 2.5 MPH, place the rig around 15 to 18 feet deep. If the fish are on the point/hump, you’ll see them on the sonar and the bite has been quick. This umbrella pattern has lake wide application but may be strongest on the lower end.
Plenty of fish on the lights, all sizes, and this technique seems to be getting better each week. Pitching live baits, or casting small buck tails and flukes are quick to get the bite. If you are a fly fisherman, casting to the lights offers a great opportunity to take a Striper on the fly. You can fish after sunset, before dawn, or all through the night, with mild weather now here this is a good way to catch a bunch of fish and beat any crowds.
The Bass bite is good, and we are in the only time of the year where you can consistently catch Spotted Bass in really shallow water. Almost any bank that has any type of cover may hold fish, and the big variable is just determining what the best bait is on a given day. Here are a few suggestions to narrow down that learning curve. Spinnerbaits are a good choice and allow you to move fast and cover some water. The wind will help this pattern but it can effective even on the days with little breeze. You may have to slow down the bait, and or use a heavier bait and allow it to follow to fish a little deeper if it slicks off. Jerk baits fall under the same conditions, and use the wind to your advantage. If the moving baits do not get the response you want, move to a soft plastic on a lead head. Senkos, Finesse worms, and Keitechs are all effective choices, you’ll just need to tweak the speed and depth and then you can run up some numbers!
Topwater fishing is starting up, I don’t think it is where it should be based on surface temps, but it is beginning and should get stronger in the coming days. To me there are two very distinct top water bites on Lanier, the first is a pre-spawn-spawn pattern that we are in now. This pattern mostly involves smaller top water baits like the small Chug Bugs, Baby Spooks, and Devils Horses. If you really want to dig deep into the tackle box try and the floating Rapalas. There is a reason that old bait has been around for as long as it has! Once the water heats up and the fish go into post spawn and move off shore, which to the larger baits such as Zara Spooks, Pencil Poppers, Whopper Ploppers, etc…. Try the smaller plugs around stump flats, blown down trees, shallow docks, or any other shallow structures. I think the swim baits/wake baits, are the same as the top waters, that bite is very close, but not quite there. Expect these techniques to really ramp up any day!