Lake Lanier Fishing Report February 2017

GON Staff | February 1, 2017

Lanier: Level: 10.1 feet below full pool. Temp: 49-51 degrees. Clarity: Clear on the main lake.

Spotted Bass: Excellent. Guide Ryan Coleman reports, “Lanier bass fishing remains good. The draw-down has been slowed some by the corps, and the lake should start to slowly gain some water. The surface temps are holding just under 50 degrees and are still above average for this time of year. We have fish in just about every depth right now. There are some very good fish up shallow in 5 to 15 feet of water. Early in the day, you can catch some nice bass up on rock areas by using a jig-head worm or crankbait. Just work slowly and make repeated casts to the rock before moving on. As the sun come up, some of the good fish are holding on boat docks in 10 to 20 feet of water. I am not having to fish the deeper docks right now to get good fish. For docks, I am fishing two baits. A 3/16-oz. jig head with Zoom Swamp Crawler or a 1/4-oz. SpotSticker crawler head with a Yamamoto 5-inch Hula Grub rigged on it. Green pumpkin or cinnamon are the only colors you need for Lake Lanier this time of year through March. There are also some good fish holding in the backs of pockets right now and can be caught on a shallow crankbait or jerkbait. These have been very good fish, and once you find a pocket that has them in it, you can usually catch two or three in one area. The deep fish are still out there. They always are in the winter. They are holding in the 30- to 40-foot range right now in the center of pockets around the standing timber. I have had my best success with a 3/8-oz. green craw jig tipped with a 5-inch twin tail. By far this has been best for the better fish. I am also dropping a 6-inch hand-poured worm on them as I see them on the screen. Look for these patterns to hold up through February unless we get a major cold spell, which should move most of the Lanier spotted bass out deep. If not, look for more fish to move up shallow.”

Stripers: Guide Capt. Clay Cunningham reports, “Look for several patterns to be important in February. If February is cold, look for the umbrella rig to be the key pattern. Gear up with 7-foot, medium-light Shakespeare Tiger Rods paired with Penn Squall 30 reels and spooled with 40-lb. Trilene Big Game or 130-lb. braid and a Captain Mack’s 3-oz. rigged umbrella. The Captain Mack’s Umbrella Rig comes ready to fish. Be sure to check out the videos online for more details on how to pull the U-rig. Most of the time pull the umbrella rig at 3 mph across humps and points. The stripers will be tight to the bottom most days. Also, be sure to purchase a Jerry Hester umbrella rig retriever. If you are fishing deep enough, you will snag the bottom at some point, and the retriever is a money saver. The Captain Mack’s Umbrella Rig comes with chartreuse trailers or white trailers. Be sure to buy additional 6-inch trailers in chartreuse and white. The stripers tend to pull them off at times. Also, pick up additional Captain Mack’s umbrella bucktail components to replace any jigs you break off. Toward the end of February, look for the largest stripers of the year to start showing up. With January being warm, expect to see the big females to show up early. The next warm spell at the end of the month will increase the water temperature, and the larger fish will begin to prepare for the spring spawn. Late February and all of March are arguably the best six weeks of the year to boat a trophy striper on Lake Lanier. The metabolism of the spawning stripers will increase, and they will be hungry. Put a herring out on a freeline over the open water, and you may boat a 30-lb-plus striper. A freeline is nothing more than a Spro 80-lb. swivel, a 6-foot leader of 15- or 20-lb. Trilene 100 Percent flourocarbon and a Gamakatsu 3/0 Octopus hook. The ideal setup for the freeline is a 7-foot Shakespeare Striper Rod spooled with 20-lb. Trilene Big Game on a Penn Squall 20 Linecounter reel. Stripers are a saltwater fish, and the Penn Squall is made for the task of larger fish. This big-fish fishing is some of the most relaxing fishing of the year. This pattern will produce low numbers, but the size will make up for it. Personally, this time period is one of my favorites of the year. Knowing you have a good chance at a trophy fish makes everything more exciting.” Big Fish On Guide Service reports, “Striper fishing has been good, but any strong front can slow things down a bit for a few days. During this time of the year, weather fronts have significantly stronger impact upon your fishing. Pre-frontal fishing tends to be good, and post-frontal fishing tends to slower. Slower both in the number of bites and the speed at which you need to present your baits. The best time to fish is just as the front is hitting, it tends to be overcast—normally a good thing—and then it starts precipitating in some manner, depending on how cold of a front it is. Once the wind starts blowing, the front has passed by. Pay close attention to the bait schools, and adjust your fishing techniques accordingly. If the bait is shallow, start your day with unweighted freelines 50 to 70 feet behind the boat. Deploy planer boards with bank side planer at 20 feet behind the board and 50 to 70 feet on the deeper water planer board. We continue to use a combination or medium minnows and blueback herring with 12-lb. test fluorocarbon 5-foot leaders. As always match your hook size to the size of the bait. We are using a No. 2 or No. 4 Gamakatsu Octopus hook for the medium minnows, while we are using a No. 1 or 1/0 for the herring. If the bait is deeper than 30 feet, weight your freelines and deploy several downrods, and fish them as close to the bottom as possible. As always, keep someone on the front deck casting a 1/2-oz. Captain Mack’s bucktail jig. We are also seeing some topwater action. Keep your eyes on the water, and resist the temptation to plow into a school of feeding fish with the big motor. This time of the year is all about paying attention, not only to the weather, but to the baits schools, as well. Downsize your baits, lighten up your tackle, and slow down your pull. You need those small baits to be swimming as naturally as possible for the best results. This is the time of the year that threadfins are great baits. It is also a time of the year where you can often throw an 8-foot net and catch those threadfins! I know a lot of you guys want to learn about throwing the net and catching your own bait, and believe it or not this is a pretty good time of the year to do it. The shallow bait, which is often covering up your graph unbroken for long distances, is catchable with an 8-foot net. Keep a bucket on board, often you will catch so many threads that you can fill up a bucket to use as chum to use if you see a school of fish and they aren’t biting. Be mindful of others fishing near you when throwing the net—you don’t want to that “GUY” messing up everyone else’s fishing while you are learning to catch bait. Everyone, please wear your PFDs, and don’t go out alone if you can help it. Hypothermia is deadly and happens very quickly in cold water. Remember, the bait will tend to be shallow during low-light periods and on overcast days. The bait will not necessarily be over a shallow bottom, but it will tend to be shallower in the water column. The bait will tend to be deeper in the water column and therefore over a deeper bottom when it’s sunny out and the water is clear. An important exception to this “rule” is the muddy water created in the backs of the creeks by rain. This stained, shallow water will warm up quicker from the sun than anywhere else on the lake. Then the bait will often stay in shallow water over a shallow bottom there in the backs of the creeks. Do not worry about stained or slightly muddy water—it bothers the fishermen much more than then it does the fish! There are fish in just about every creek on the lake, however Flat Creek should be your first stop. When the water starts warming up, sometime between the end of February and the beginning of March, it’s a great time for a shot at a big, fat prespawn behemoth, especially in Shady Grove, right Andy?”

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