Lake Lanier Fishing Report – December 2019

GON Staff | November 22, 2019

Lanier: Level: 3.6 feet low. Temp: 57-60 degrees. Clarity: The main lake is clear with some light stain in the backs of the creeks with recent rains.

Bass: Guide Ryan Coleman reports, “Fishing is good with the fish being scattered all about. There are some big fish up shallow on rock points and bluffs in 5 to 20 feet of water. They seem to roam up and down as the sun comes out, but they are staying on the rock. I’ve been catching most of them just working a crankbait early in the morning and then changing to a Finesse Stick in green pumpkin/purple color rigged on a 3/16-oz. jig head. This has been a pretty good combo for the shallow fish. There are also some decent schools of deep fish that are starting to group up in the timber, but more of them are smaller fish. I have been having some good numbers on a 3/8-oz. casting jig in green craw and dark smoke tipped with a 5-inch twin-tail grub, as well as the jig head and Finesse Stick combo in 35 to 50 feet of water. Just work inside the timber or around the edges, and the schools of fish will show up.  As we move into December, look for these schools to grow and more big fish will show up.”

Stripers: Capt. Ron Mullins reports, “We are still seeing some remnants of turnover but only in isolated areas. The birds are here, and even more will show up on the full moon on Dec. 12. They will be lots of help in finding the stripers as they have spread out all over the lake in recent weeks. The Chattahoochee and Chestatee arms, northern creeks like Latham/Johnson, Thompson, Gainesville and Little River, and southern creeks like Sardis and Bald Ridge will all be holding fish in December. The stripers are really starting to key on small baits, so the go-to artificials this month will be Capt. Mack’s Mini Macks, Super Spoons and Jigging Shads. The Mini Macks can be cast to surfacing schoolers or trolled 125 to 150 feet behind the boat around active birds. There will be quite a few shallow fish in 10 to 20 feet of water on humps surrounded by deep water, as well. Approach these areas that you have highlighted with your LakeMaster map and fan cast from one side of the hump to the other with long casts and make a steady retrieve with the rig and hang on. The Super Spoons and Jigging Shad in the 1/2- to 1-oz. sizes will be best used on deeper schools of fish in 30 to 50 feet of water on feeding flats off the creek channels, the ends of secondary points or over the creek channels inside the treeline (less than 45 feet of water right now). After you mark large schools of bait in these areas, you will find the stripers not far off. Drop these lures vertically to these fish. Using a sweeping motion, lift and flutter the spoons up and down through the schools below. Lots of these bites will happen as the spoon is falling, so make sure you’re paying attention and set that hook. Both of these lures are very versatile and can be cast to surfacing fish with long casts and yo-yo’d back through the school. Live-bait options will be downlines and planer boards with herring, medium shiners or small trout. Don’t forget that the fish are keying on small bait, so try to match the hatch. Remember that Jesus is the reason for the season. Merry Christmas and see you in the new year.”

Capt. Clay Cunningham reports, “The striper fishing is finally falling into the winter patterns. The bait is thickening up in the creeks, and the stripers are following them. Live bait will be hard to beat in December. The baitfish are now moving into the creeks in very large schools. Some of these schools are absolutely massive. On and off throughout the day the stripers will move through this bait and feast. You want to be waiting on the stripers with the traditional downline with blueback herring and rainbow trout. You will need the same setup for both of these baits, but you will need different size weights and hooks. Spool up a Penn Fathom II 20 reel with 15-lb. Trilene Big Game clear line paired with a Shakespeare striper rod. You can use this setup year-round for stripers. Tie a Carolina rig on the end with a Capt. Mack 2-oz. swivel sinker and 5-foot leader of 15-lb. Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon and a Gamakatsu 3/0 octopus hook. If the trout are smaller, go with the 1/0 or 2/0 Gamakatsu octopus hook. On the herring, use the smaller, 1-oz. Capt. Mack swivel sinker. Also on the herring, use a smaller size 1 Gamakatsu Finesse Wide Gap hook and 12-lb. Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon. These details will make the difference between fishing and catching. If you want to catch these fish on artificials, the spoon is a great choice. Tie on a Capt. Mack Super Spoon on a 6-6 Fenwick medium-action rod paired with an Abu Garcia Revo X with 10-lb. line, and drop the spoon to the bottom. Work it in a yo-yo type motion. Most of the bites will be on the fall of the spoon. If you do see some surface action, keep a Berkley Spy tied on a spinning rod. To find where these deep pods are located, first look for any birds. The birds always narrow your search. Now that you are in the right area, the proper electronics are crucial. On the Humminbird Solix, you can see these huge pods of bait and even watch your bait swim around on the hook around the schools of bait. During the winter, do not be afraid to fish in the middle of the day. Many times in the winter the best fishing is during the warmest part of the day.”

Crappie: Capt. John McCalpin reports, “The crappie bite is good to very good. We are beginning to catch some larger fish intermittently. Be prepared to move often, as the bite can quickly shut down after a few fish have been caught.  The bite window is pretty much all day, particularly on open-water brushpiles. Fish are holding at a wide range of depths, typically 8 to 25 feet over a bottom ranging from 18 to 30 feet. Until you determine the depth that the fish are biting on a particular day, try dropping your lure or minnow to the bottom and very slowly retrieve it. If you are using a lure, apply a slight jigging action as you retrieve to spark the attention of the fish. Note the depth at which the fish bite, and adjust your casts accordingly. Sonar technology is essential to quickly locate brushpiles or submerged trees holding fish. In particular, use scanning-type sonar technology to locate schooling fish on brushpile cover and drop a marker buoy nearby as a reference to accurately present your live bait or lure. To save time on future trips, be sure to set waypoints on your electronic charts so that you can quickly return to productive locations. Note that you can do this on a smartphone or tablet using Navionics “Boating HD” app. I’ll be demonstrating this (and how to save time locating fish) in January at the Atlanta Boat Show. Jiffy Jigs, Bobby Garland lures and ATX Lures have all produced fish in a variety of colors and styles. I usually start with Jiffy Jigs JJ20 or JJ25 on open brush. Under docks, I start with Bobby Garland Baby Shad in blue thunder colors or ATX Lures Wicked Shad in milk/green colors. I’m using mostly 1/24-oz. jig heads with sickle hooks and 2-lb. test, high-visibility line. These jigs can be used equally well for short casting, vertical jigging or dock shooting presentations. Moving into middle and late December, the colder weather will reduce surface water temperatures further but should not discourage the fish from biting.”

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