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Lake Lanier Fishing Report February 2011

GON Staff | January 25, 2011

Lanier: Level: 0.8 feet below full pool. Temp: Low to mid 40s. Clarity: Clear.

Spotted Bass: Tough. Ryan Coleman reports, “The major arctic weather we have had has absolutely killed the bite. Most of the fish that were in the backs of creeks have left those areas looking for deeper timber. You can catch a few big fish right now if you are very patient and fish extremely slowly over the timber. I have been catching a few using a brown 3/8-oz. jig, just bouncing it over the tops of the timber in 40 feet of water. The preferred depth for the spotted bass right now seems to be 40 to 45 feet. You can catch a few shallow on warm days, but they are few and far between. Look for things to improve as February moves in. We will start to get some warm days in the middle of the month, and some big fish will move shallow. Some fish will start to show up in the backs of the creeks as the water warms, and a Fish Head Spin or finesse worm rigged on a Spotsticker jig head will do wonders for you. Also start to look for some big fish to suspend in the sunny pockets during the middle of the day next month. A suspending jerkbait like a Pointer 100 or Megabass is the best weapon for these fish. Use a very slow retrieve with a long pause to catch these fish. Look for pockets that are baking in the sun. As the water gets close to 50 degrees, look for the dock bite to pick up.”

Largemouths: Tough. Billy Boothe reports, “There hasn’t been much of a largemouth bite lately. The cold run-off from all the snow we had really shut the largemouths down. The deep bite is going to be best for the first part of the month. Look for creek-channel ledges in 15 to 25 feet of water that have rock, brush and shad. Work a 5/16-oz. peanut-butter-and-jelly TABU jig down the drop, or fish vertically with a smoke/purple Mann’s Hardnose finesse worm on a drop shot. Later in the month, look for fish to start staging on main-river points in 10 to 15 feet of water. The best bait for these fish is a crystal threadfin Mann’s 15-plus fished with a stop-and-go retrieve. The other pattern that should start to develop is fishing the ditches that wind through pockets and the backs of creeks. Fan cast a gold-and-black Yo-Zuri Rattlin Vibe until you get bit. Then work the area with a Carolina-rigged, green-pumpkin Mann’s Hardnose lizard with the tail dyed orange. If we get a few milder days and nights, don’t be afraid to go extremely shallow. Largemouths will move quickly to take advantage of warmer surface temps and sunshine. Look for pockets that are out of the wind and have rock banks and docks. Skip a weightless watermelon-candy Mann’s Hardnose Free Fall worm around the floats to catch the fish that are pulled up sunning around the black floats.”

Stripers: Good. Clay Cunningham reports, “For the last several weeks the umbrella bite has been very strong, and the live-bait bite has been nonexistent. Once the bait finally makes it to the backs of the creeks, look for the big fish to start showing up. February and March are the best two months of the year for a big fish as the stripers prepare for the spawn. Freelines with trout and gizzard shad will be the best tactic for the big fish. Once the water temp climbs into the 50s, try casting bucktails up shallow.” Mike Maddelena reports, “The threadfins have just started to die, and the fish are gorging on them. The U-rig has been the best method to get fish in the boat. You can run up some high numbers, though the fish are generally on the small side. The shad die off is causing the live-bait bite to be tough. Smaller minnows and threadfin shad are outperforming the herring and trout. Downsize your leader to 10- to 12-lb. test, and use No. 4 hooks for these small baits. Some larger fish are being caught on bait, though it is a slow bite. The gulls will help you find the dying bait, which are in very large schools. Fish your live bait on the edges of the bait schools. Pulling freelines 80 to 100 feet back and downrods at 20 to 35 feet early and late are your best bet. When you are pulling baits, always keep someone on the front deck casting a 1/2-oz. bucktail jig with a small fluke trailer. Pulling an umbrella rig late morning and early afternoon is your best bet to trigger a reaction bite from inactive fish. Focus on points and humps with four-arm umbrella rigs loaded with 1-oz. bucktails and white 4-inch shad bodies pulled 100 to 120 feet back. The stripes are pulling up on the points, humps and edges of the flats that are getting the most sun, as the shallower water warms up first. The fish are relating to brush for the most part. I don’t expect much to change during February, but keep your eyes on the water temperature. As the temperature warms, the backs of the creeks should heat up first and draw bait and fish onto the shallow flats. If and when this warming trend happens, put your planner boards 2 to 3 feet off the bank with bait 10 to 15 feet behind the board, and hold on!” Shane Watson Guide Service reports, “Over the last week or so we’ve seen some really good fishing, and we’ve seen some slower fishing at times. We are seeing boiling stripers up on the surface feeding on small bluebacks and threadfins most mornings. A well-placed 1/2-oz. white Spro bucktail or a white lead-head fluke will work most every time. The key is to almost hit the fish in the head with it, and you will get a bite. Trolling shad-body U-rigs has worked when the fish have been up and active. Look for the birds diving and the stripers up shallow for best success. Mid-lake on farther south is producing throughout the day. There are fish and birds scattered in the mouths to the middle of many creeks and in pockets just off the main lake. We continue to catch and release many big spotted bass while striper fishing with a spoon, bucktail and bait. We are seeing them in big bait schools down 30 to 40 feet deep over a 50 to 70 foot slick bottom. Overall, if the stripers are active and high in the water column when you are out there, the fishing will be good. If they are scattered and deep, expect a mixed bag of stripers and spots and a slower bite. Keep moving until you find the fish. Our fish have ranged in size from 5 to 20 pounds this past week.”

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