Lake Lanier Fishing Report – December 2022
Lanier: Level: 4.8 feet below 1071. Temp: Upper 50s. Clarity: The lake is down several feet and most of the lake is clear as turnover is almost over. There is a little stain in the backs of the creeks.
Bass: Jimbo from Jimbo’s Lake Lanier Spotted Bass Guide Service reports, “While the outside elements are not always favorable, December and throughout the winter can offer some outstanding angling on Lake Lanier. Big sacks of spotted bass can be taken during these cold-weather months if you approach the lake with an open mind and are willing to try some different techniques and locations and mostly get off the bank. Let’s explore two productive approaches to Lanier in December—ditches and rock. Understand that in 2022, the lake is around 5 feet below full pool. This is the first time in several years that this condition has occurred. In the past, when we have encountered lower lake levels in December, it has made the ditch fishing both more predictable and consistent. Join me in welcoming, in advance, a repeat performance! A ditch can be defined as a significant depression, typically narrow in width (2 to 15 feet), which offers a sharp depth change of 2 feet or more from the surrounding structure. Ditches can be naturally occurring or can be man-made. An example of a naturally occurring ditch would be a creek channel that feeds a pocket, cove or creek arm. A man-made ditch could result from a trench that was dug during the construction of a housing edition near the lake. These features exist in many places on Lake Lanier, and they hold fish during the winter months. Ditches can be shallow or deep, and sometimes both depending on the length and location of the ditch. Use your Humminbird electronics to find creek arms or pockets just off of the main creek channels that offer a deep vein extending back into the arm or cove/pocket. The farther the deep water extends into the creek arm, the better. Also, the more rock that is present, the better. When you enter these areas and are searching for productive water, search for the presence of baitfish in and around the timber, which you will find in the deeper water portions of the ditch. If you do not find bait, you will not find fish. Leave and check other similar areas. Start your search in 40 feet of water in the mouth of the ditch and work your way back. Start fishing when you find the bait. Once you find a creek arm that meets the above criteria, you must now determine how you are going to fish these potentially productive waters. Your approach should be determined by the location of the bait and time of day. Early in the mornings, active fish will often be positioned shallower in the ditch, toward the back and sometimes right in the middle. Your presentation speed should vary directly with the water temperature. The colder the water, the slower your presentation should be. Experiment with different lures and retrieve speeds to determine the optimum strike-provoking presentation on any given day. As the water chills on Lanier heading into December, rock points and veins of rock (in creek arms or on the main lake), as well as rocky humps can be a big factor. Rock holds heat from the sun and therefore attracts forage that seek to meet their metabolic need by finding the warmest available water, even if it is only a slight temperature difference. Accordingly, make sure you find the rock in whatever area you are fishing, as that might indeed be the area the fish are holding because the bait is in that same area. Rock often provides the sweet spot within any viable structure options as the water gets colder. A Georgia Blade Shad Spin is one of my favorite baits for this time of year. Cast this bait down the center of the ditches in which you have found bait and fish. Work the bait slowly on the bottom (or in the area of where you see the bait and fish suspended) and be alert for very light bites. Make sure to let the fish load up on the bait before you set the hook. That is the toughest part of this approach. It is easy to feel the first bite and immediately set the hook. Resist the temptation and keep reeling slowly until the fish loads up. Use a boot-tail-type trailer as the water gets colder. The vibration of this type of trailer helps the fish zero in on the bait. If the bladed bait is not working, try the Keitech swimbait on a jig head and swim or drag that as a more finesse-type option. When the fish are shallower in the ditches, particularly in the mornings, a crankbait can be an effective search bait. Fan cast the backs of pockets and ditches with a crankbait and, as with the Georgia Blade Shad Spin, work the bait slowly and deliberately. The more the bait bumps and deflects off the bottom and acts erratically, the better. Work a Berkley Frittside crankbait in the backs of creeks. Don’t forget to try the Berkley jerkbaits as well—the Berkley Stunna can be an excellent option in the backs of these creek arms early in the morning. Overall, stay flexible in your approach and don’t be afraid to switch techniques. When the fish are not as active, a jig or worm fished in the ditches can be effective. Work the baits SLOWLY on the bottom. Make sure to pause the bait frequently (vary the length of pause until you are spot on) and impart some pops and hops in the presentation. This can be key to triggering strikes. Play with color selection on both the jig and worm. Green pumpkin derivatives are usually a good place to start. I prefer the Georgia Jig options and will fish a worm on the Georgia Blade ball heads, as well. As the day progresses, particularly on sunny days, the bait and fish will move into the deeper portions of the ditch and will relate to the available cover, such as brush or standing timber. Presenting a Georgia Jig, drop-shot worm by Lanier Baits or a jigging spoon to these fish can be effective, as well. Make sure to experiment with different places and approaches as the lake fishes differently each day. Stay flexible and enjoy more success. Good luck, and I’ll see y’all on the water!”
Stripers: Capt. Clay Cunningham, of Catching Not Fishing Lake Lanier Fishing Guides, reports, “The striper fishing on Lake Lanier is finally falling into the winter patterns. With the hot temperatures in early November, the fishing has been good but all over the place. Now with the cold weather finally showing up, the bait is thickening up in the creeks, and the stripers are following them. Live bait will be hard to beat in December. The topwater bite has been on and off like a light switch. The good news is the size of the stripers has been great. Lots of bigger teenaged fish are showing up daily. 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 freeline with blueback herring or medium shiners this year and possibly even a few trout. Trout are already being used with success this fall. You will need the same setup for all of these baits, but you will need different sized 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 Captain Mack’s 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 medium shiners, use a size 4 Gamakatsu Octopus hook. On the herring, use the smaller, 1-oz. Captain Mack’s Swivel Sinker. Also on the herring, use a smaller size 1 Gamakatsu Finesse Wide Gap hook and 12-lb. Trilene 100 % Fluorocarbon. All of these details are important. 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 Captain Mack’s Super Spoon on a 6-6 Fenwick medium-action rod paired with a Abu Garcia Revo X with 10-lb. line and drop the spoon to the bottom and 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. With the falling water temperatures, many times they will be eating small baits. To find where these deep pods of bait 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 see your bait swimming 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. This is a win all the way around. No need to freeze at daylight. See you on the water.”
Crappie: Capt. Josh Thornton reports, “Crappie are suspended 15 to 25 feet and can still be found on 30-40-foot deep brush. Docks with structure, deep blowdowns and brushpiles are holding fish. If you are using jigs, I would try bright colors in clear water and dark colors after the rain. I am setting minnows 15 to 20 feet deep most of the time just above the suspended fish. This week all of my catch came on minnows. Crappie love the shade, so cast into the shadows or shaded areas of docks. When dock shooting, the biggest fish are usually the first to bite. I use ATX Lure Company plastic jigs on Lip Thrashin Lures jig heads. I use 5-lb. test, high-visibility yellow K9 braid for my line unless I am using a bobber, then it’s the K9 6-lb. high-visibility line. I use Garmin Livescope and the Navionics Boating app. Find me on Facebook and like my pages @crappieonlanier and @fishingwitheverydayheroes.”
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