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Lake Lanier Fishing Report February 2020

GON Staff | January 29, 2020

Lanier: Level: Full. Temp: 50 degrees. Clarity: The main lake is clear and the backs of the creeks are stained from recent rains. If we can get some sun, the back of the creeks will increase in temperature rapidly.

Bass: Guide Ryan Coleman reports, “Fishing remains great for us as the water temps are still not in the 40s. There are both shallow and deep fish out there. The shallow fish are concentrated on rock and can be caught on a crankbait early in the day and then worms and jigs throughout the day. We are just working a electric-shad SpotSticker Finesse Stick on a 3/16-oz. jig head or a herring-colored casting jig along the rocks slowly from 5 to 15 feet of water. The fish that are up there are eating, so no need to make repeated casts. Just hit places and move on. The deep bite is in typical places right now but just a little farther back than normal since the lake is so full. The best early bite is on a 3.3- or 3.8-inch blueback herring or pearl white SpotSticker swimmer rigged on a 1/2-oz. football swimbait head. Thread the swimbait on the head, and then just crawl it along the bottom in the drains and ditches from 10 to 40 feet of water. Just a very slow retrieve to keep bottom contact is perfect. As the sun comes out, they are holding around the edges of the timber in 40 to 50 feet of water and a Georgia craw or herring-colored 3/8-oz casting jig is the best bet for working the trees. I’m using 12-lb. fluorocarbon line with my jig to get a faster sink rate and better feel in the deeper water.”

Stripers: Guide Capt. Clay Cunningham reports, “The stripers have been deep with the deep bait. Most of the bait has been 50 to 60 feet deep. There have been a few fish shallow that can be easy to catch but not big numbers. We need a little warm weather to pull this bait out of the depths. Hopefully February will begin to show signs of warming up and the bait making a rush to the back of the creeks. Live bait has continued to be the best pattern over the deep bait. As the bait condenses in the creeks, this pattern will not change much except that they will progressively move shallower as spring gets closer. Be prepared with as many rods as possible. Keep as many Shakespeare Striper Rods rigged as possible with Penn Fathom Linecounter reels spooled with 15-lb. Trilene Big Game and a downline. The downline is more less a Carolina rig for live bait. Tie on a 2-oz. Capt. Mack Swivel Sinker, a 5-foot leader of Trilene 100% 12-lb. fluorocarbon and a Gamakatsu size 1 octopus hook. These hooks are tiny but incredibly strong. Great electronics like the Humminbird Solix will greatly increase your success. If you want to use artificials, the Capt. Mack 3/8- and 1/4-oz. bucktails will come into play in February. In clear water, go with the white bucktail and the chartreuse in stained water. Rig up a Penn Conflict 3000  with 10-lb. Trilene Big Game on a 7-foot-medium Penn rod. If you prefer a baitcaster, match up an Abu Garcia Revo with an Abu Garcia Veritas 7-foot medium casting rod. Do not use heavier than 10-lb. line. Heavier line will lessen your casting distance. This pattern will be best once the bait moves to the backs of the creeks. February can be the big fish month of the year as the females begin to feel the urge of the spring spawn. The metabolism of the big females will increase, and they will be looking for a meal. Be sure to check all your lines for minor frays and knots in the line. Fishing line is just like a chain and only as strong as the weakest link.” Capt. Ron Mullins reports, “This winter bite has been the best it has been in years and as has been as good as or better than our summer bite. Large schools of fish are being found all over the lake from Bald Ridge, Shoal, Flat, Ada, Gainesville, Wahoo, Little River, Latham and Thompson. These schools of fish are all around the huge schools of bait that are in the backs of these creeks. Concentrate your graphing with your electronics in 30 to 60 feet of water. Lakemaster on your Humminbird Solix or Helix will allow you to first adjust the topo lines on your map for the fluctuating lake level which will keep your map showing the actual depth and not the full level numbers, and second allow you to highlight a specific depth range so that at a glance you can see your target ranges all around you without having to stare at topo lines and see if it’s the correct depth. The best bite will continue to be with downlines since these fish will be within 10 feet of the bottom. Shorten your leaders to 2 to 3 feet of 12-lb. fluorocarbon. The stripers do not want to chase their food very far, so these shorter leaders are the key. Herring and medium shiners are getting bit best by these schoolers. Four- to 6-inch shad will also get hammered by the larger fish that are mixed in, as well. Most of these fish will be caught on Spot Lock, but if you move around at 0.8-1 mph looking for fish, make sure you to keep your Capt. Mack’s Mini Macks 25 to 35 feet down, as well. This range will keep you out of the trees but down where the fish are feeding. A 3/4- or 1-oz. Capt. Mack’s Super Spoon in white, white/silver flash or white/pink flash will also be great this month when the fish are piled up together on the bottom.”

Crappie: Capt. John McCalpin reports, “You should concentrate on the areas where the muddy stain is less prominent. The overall pattern is like last month, with fish holding at a wide range of depths, typically 10 to 20 feet over a bottom ranging from 17 to 28 feet. 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, sometimes tying two different jigs on my line about 18 inches apart. 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 yellow line. These jigs can be used equally well for short casting, vertical jigging or dock shooting presentations. Moving into February, I expect the current pattern to continue to be productive. Sonar and electronic charting technologies are essential to quickly locate brushpiles or submerged trees holding fish. Use scanning-type sonar technology (e.g. Down and Side Imaging) to locate schooling fish. 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 the Navionics “Boating HD Marine & Lakes” app. Refer to my SonarAngler channel on YouTube for video illustrations of how to save time and fuel locating fish. Lowrance Pro Staffer Ken Sturdivant and I will be at Hammond’s Fishing Center on Feb. 29 if you would like to talk more about these techniques.”

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