Lake Lanier Fishing Report – January 2020

GON Staff | December 31, 2019

Lanier: Level: 3.2 feet low. Temp: 51-53 degrees. Clarity: Clear on the main lake to slightly stained in the backs of the creeks and up the rivers.

Bass: Guide Ryan Coleman reports, “There is a excellent shallow bite right now and an excellent deep bite. The shallow bite is happening on rock banks and points, and the fish are in 5 to 15 feet of water. The easiest way to catch them is to take a 3/16-oz. screwball shaky head with an electric shad SpotSticker Finesse Stick and just beat the rock banks. The fish up there are very aggressive and are pretty easy to catch. You can also take a 10-foot diving crankbait and dig the rock. This is especially good in the mornings but will also work during the day. As for the deep bite, there are plenty of fish in the timber that are eating a swimbait, jig or worm. During the morning, you can work a 3.3- or 3.8-inch soft swimbait rigged on a 1/2-oz. SpotSticker football swimbait head in the ditches from 10 to 30 foot and just rack up on the spotted bass. I am rigging the football swimbait head on a 7-foot medium-heavy St. Croix Avid rod and 12-lb. fluorocarbon line. Just make a decent cast with the swimbait down the middle of the channels and slowly reel it back keeping bottom contact. The bites are excellent. During the day, I am working timber edges with the jig and worm in 35 to 55 feet of water. There are tons of fish out there in the timber. Something close to a ditch or cut will be much better. As we roll through December and into January, look for this technique to rule the roost as that water continues to cool. More fish will leave the shallows for the deep timber. Best bite of the year in my opinion.”

Crappie: Capt. John McCalpin reports, “The crappie bite is very good. We are catching crappie in significant numbers and finding larger fish congregating in brushpiles under covered docks. The bite window is pretty much all day, particularly on open-water brushpiles. Fish are holding at a wide range of depths, typically 10 to 20 feet over a bottom ranging from 17 to 25 feet. Until you determine the depth that the fish are biting on a particular day, try dropping your lure or minnow to the bottom and very slowly retrieve it. If you are using a lure, apply a slight jigging action as you retrieve to spark the attention of the fish. Note the depth at which the fish bite, and adjust your casts accordingly. 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 line. These jigs can be used equally well for short casting, vertical jigging or dock shooting presentations. Moving into January, 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. 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 Navionics “Boating HD” app. Refer to my SonarAngler channel on YouTube for video illustrations of electronic charting. Also, I’ll be demonstrating this (and how to save time locating fish) in January at the Atlanta Boat Show.”

Stripers: Capt. Ron Mullins reports, “Striper fishing will continue to be good through January mid lake and north up the rivers. The stripers will be in a variety of water depths, but the most consistent bite will be in 40 to 60 feet of water with downlines. The key to this bite will be to find the large concentrations of bait toward the backs of the creeks. Sardis, Ada, Wahoo and Littler River on the Chattahoochee side, and Taylor, Thompson and Yellow on the Chestatee side will all be good starting points. The centers of drainages and coves will also be productive as you run up the river channels. Herring on downlines with a 1- to 1.5-oz Captain Mack’s Swivel Sinker with approximately 3 feet of 10- to 12-lb. fluorocarbon leader and a No. 1 or 1/0 Gamakatsu circle hook will be the best bait setup. Small trout or medium shiners will also be great baits to put down. Remember to change out your hooks to a 2/0 or No. 4 hook, depending on the size of the bait that you put down. The Captain Mack’s Mini Mack will be the artificial go-to in January. After you find the bait and fish on your Humminbird SOLIX or other graph, get your downlines down and put your Mini Macks in your spread 25 to 35 feet down and pull around these schools at 0.5-0.8mph. The Mini Mack will also be an easy rig to flip out 100 to 125 feet behind the boat and troll through active birds that you will see while you are moving from creek to creek.” Capt. Clay Cunningham reports, “As always this time of year, the weather is the big factor. This time of year the best fishing is often in the afternoon as the sun warms the water a little. The other key to the stripers this time of year is to find the bait in the backs of the creeks. Every creek on the lake will have some stripers in it. Another huge advantage this time of year is the bait being in the backs of the creeks, which narrows your search immensely. Most of the time in January, the fish will be in the last third of any creek. Once you find the bait in the backs of the creeks, several patterns can develop. First and foremost is pulling live bait on a freeline. The freeline is basically a hook and a live bait back behind the boat. Spool up a Penn Fathom 15 line counter reel paired with a Shakespeare Striper Rod. Be sure to use a premium swivel, like the Spro Power Swivel, a Gamakatsu Octopus hook and fluorocarbon on the leader like the Berkley 100% Fluorocarbon. So far this winter, trout and herring have been the best baits, and hopefully this will continue. That being said, the number of fish caught on the freelines have been low in number but better size. Early in the morning and during any time of low light, pull the trout on a freeline somewhere around 100 feet behind the boat. This is the best way to catch a big fish most days. Try to stay away from other boats, and keep your baits fresh. The other pattern is the downline bite right on the deep schools of bait. The pattern is accounting for much better numbers with a few good fish mixed in. Find the bait and drop the smaller trout and herring right on top of the bait. Start with a 5-foot leader, a Gamakatsu Octopus size 1 hook and a Captain Mack Swivel Sinker. Do not be afraid to shorten the leader. With the colder water temperature, the stripers may not want to chase the bait. If you do not want to use live bait, try a spoon. The most popular spoon on Lanier is the 0.6-oz., white foil Flex-it and the 1-oz. Captain Mack’s Super Spoon. You should be able to see your spoon bounce on the bottom on your electronics. This is my favorite way to fish in the winter. Great electronics like the Humminbird SOLIX are critical for seeing the spoon.”

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