Lake Lanier Fishing Report – January 2009

GON Staff | January 5, 2009

Lanier: Level: Down 18.5 feet below full pool. Go to <> for info on open ramps. Temp: Mid 50s. Clarity: Clear.

Spotted Bass: Good. “Fish are all over the place right now with the ever-changing weather conditions,” said Ryan Coleman. “The water got very cold, very fast this winter, then it warmed up. This really scattered the fish and made it difficult to catch a lot of fish in one area. There are fish out deep that can be caught on jigs, worms and spoons. Many of those fish are holding around the 35-foot mark right now, and all are very tight to the bottom. Once you catch one of these bottom huggers, your electronics will light up with fish that follow it up off the bottom. Then you can talk a couple of the other guys to bite. If you pull into these pockets and fish for 15 minutes and don’t get bit, you need to move. I have been using a 1/2-oz. football jig and a 3/16-oz. Spotsticker jig head for the most part to locate and catch these deep fish. A silver 1/4-oz. Hopkins Shorty spoon will also do the trick if they are stubborn. There are also some very good shallow fish on the main lake that will hit jerkbaits. They are harder to find and do not feed as often, but these are the bigger fish. Work a Pointer 100 or Megabass Vision 110 in very shallow water along points and shallow brush on the main lake. This pattern is very strong early, then it is very scattered throughout the day.”

Largemouths: Slow, according to Billy Boothe. “The largemouth bite is pretty tough right now and should remain that way through January. Your best bet right now is fishing extremely slow around ditches and drop-offs in 10 to 20 feet of water. I’ve had the best success with a 7/16-oz. black-and-blue TABU jig with a green-pumpkin chunk. The largemouths are really sluggish, so make sure you really let the bait soak with minimal movement. The dock fish are really scattered, but when you get bit they are usually good ones. Look for deep-water access, chunk rock and black floats. I’m fishing the shallow docks with the jig and the deeper docks with a smokin’ purple TABU whiptail worm on a drop shot. You might have to wade through some small spots cause they will always hit first. If we get a couple days in a row of warm rain, run to the back of steep drains and fish the warm-water inflows with a small crankbait like a Mann’s Loudmouth No. 3 in gray ghost or chrome and blue. On windy days, fish the flats near creek channels with an Alabama-shad Mann’s Manniac vibrating bait. Look for the bait on your graph, and burn it through them.”

Stripers: “The striper fishing remains good, but just a little unpredictable with these passing wintertime cold fronts,” said guide Shane Watson. “Our boats have had 20- to 30-fish mornings only to go back the same afternoon and work for five or six fish. There are fish showing up in all the usual wintertime places, and the seagulls are a dead giveaway. Your best bet is to freeline and planer-board bluebacks, trout and gizzard shad, and cast lead-head flukes to rolling fish. Some days they won’t bite the bigger baits, so it pays to bring along some medium minnows or catch some small threadfins and freeline them. There are fish scattered on the main lake south and in the mouths to the middles of south-end creeks. Look for the seagulls diving with and without loons. At times the loons are a distraction, but this week especially we have caught many stripers that are rolling with the loons. There are also fish up in the typical north-end creeks, but these recent rains have muddied up and brought in a lot of debris in the rear of these north-end and some of the south-end creeks. Once the backs of these creeks clear a little, I would look in the very backs of north- and south-end creeks. If you are in deep enough water and the fish are rolling under the birds, Capt. Mack’s three- and four-arm umbrella rigs are working very well. The biggest thing we can tell folks is not to fish blind. Keep moving until you find the birds diving and the fish rolling. If a cold front passes and the birds are sitting, the fish are going to be deeper, and you will have to downline to get any bites.” Guide Mike Maddalena said the rapidly changing weather has also caused his fishing to be hit or miss. “Being versatile is key as some days the fish are on top eating small baits and other days their hitting larger baits on downrods at 50 feet. As always this time of year, you’re looking for two things — birds and bait, if they’re around, the fish will not be far from them. Some days they are in the backs of the creeks, and some days they are on the main river channel. Your best bet is freelines 70 to 100 feet back with herring or trout. Casting 1/2-oz. spoons as well as a fluke on a small Capt. Mack’s Jig or a lead head will work on rolling fish. If you are marking fish in 25 feet or less of water, jigging the same 1/2-oz. spoons will also work. If you find a large group of birds sitting around, the bait and fish are around, just deeper. Pull u-rigs while graphing for these deeper fish. Once the deeper fish are found, hit them with the downrod. Small-medium trout are the best baits for the downrod. As the water continues to cool and the winter patterns firm up in January, small baits will become even more important. The main areas to look will be the backs of any creeks and the river channel from Gainesville Creek up to Laurel Park. Keep on the move till you find fish, and don’t get stuck on any one pattern.”

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