Lake Lanier Fishing Report – January 2024

GON Staff | December 28, 2023

Lanier: Level: 8.1 feet below 1071. Temp: 55 degrees and slowly dropping. Clarity: Most of the lake is clear except for a light stain in the backs of the creeks.

Bass: Guide Jimbo Mathley with Jimbo’s Lake Lanier Spotted Bass Guide Service reports, “While the outside elements are not always favorable, January can offer some outstanding angling on Lake Lanier. Lanier offers some great winter fishing if you are willing to be outside in the elements and explore fishing outside of your comfort zone. As we discussed in a recent installment, a ditch can be defined as a significant depression, which offers a sharp depth change of 2 feet or more from the surrounding structure. Ditches can be naturally occurring or man-made. An example of a naturally occurring ditch would be a creek channel that feeds a pocket, cove or creek arm. A man-made ditch could result from a trench that was dug during the construction near the lake. These features exist in many places on Lake Lanier, and they hold fish during the winter months. Ditches can be shallow or deep and sometimes both depending on the length and location of the ditch. I shared a comprehensive report in December that focused completely on ditch fishing. If you missed it, take the opportunity to go back and review this information at It could continue to play a key role in January. The lake is trending significantly below full pool as we end 2023. Typically, when the lake is below full pool, the ditch fishing is more productive. Use your Humminbird/Garmin electronics to find creek arms or pockets just off of the main creek channels that offer a deep vein extending back into the arm or cove/pocket. The farther the deep water extends back into the creek arm, the better for wintertime fishing. When you enter these areas and are searching for productive water, search for the presence of baitfish in and around the timber, which you will find in the deeper-water portions of the ditch.  If you do not find bait, you will not find fish. Leave and check other similar areas. Also, look for the ditches that do have timber at the mouth. The presence of the timber represents the appropriate depth for a potentially productive ditch. Also, key on special features within the ditch, such as a point or secondary ditch that may intersect with the main ditch. While our focus is on fishing deep, understand that a shallow bite often exists in these same ditches, even in the dead of winter. Often these shallow fish in the winter mornings are monsters. Try these areas with a Georgia Blade Shad Spin, Berkley Stunna jerkbait or a Berkley Moneybadger crankbait. Also, a Keitech swimbait on a 1/4-oz. swim head can be a good option.  Your presentation speed with all the above should vary directly with the water temperature. The colder the water, the slower your presentation should be. Also, with the Shad Spin, crankbait and Keitech, your bait should maintain contact with the bottom as much as possible. Begin your search shallow in the backs of the creek arms at daylight. This will be the warmest water in the lake and will often attract baitfish. Often the active fish will be in 15 feet of water or less right at daylight, so get out early and be ready for some action right away. After the early morning bite, switch your focus to the deep areas of the ditch, generally 35 to 55 feet. Start with the first area of naturally occurring timber you find as you move from shallow to deep in the ditch. An isolated tree can be excellent, but thick timber can hold fish, as well. Obviously, the former is preferred, as the latter is normally more difficult to fish and potentially less efficient. So, if you can, find the more isolated cover when possible. The timber edges are often the most productive, so focus on those areas first.  Cast and drag a Georgia Craw Bite Jig through the timber the same way you would work shallower cover. Slow and methodical is the key. Develop a keen sense of feel as the bites are often very light. If the jig is not productive, fish a shaky head tipped with a Berkley General worm in the same fashion. Another option is to jig a Georgia Blade spoon vertically over fish you see on your Garmin electronics. A drop shot can also be an effective presentation. Experiment daily as fish preferences change like the wind. Stay open in your approach and remain flexible. Please mark Jan. 13, 2024 on your calendar.  This is the date of Jimbo’s Southern Fishing Expo! ONE DAY ONLY!  Come and enjoy some incredible fishing tackle and service vendors for a great day of shopping, in addition to some awesome raffle prizes! The event will be held at the Forsyth County Conference Center at Lanier Tech, off Exit 13 on GA 400. Visit this web link for more info:”

Lake Lanier Page: Archived Articles, News & Fishing Reports

Stripers: Capt. Ron Mullins with The Striper Experience reports, “This January will be like the last few years with small bait being the key to catching numbers of fish. Downlines on an Okuma 7 1/2-foot striper rod with an Okuma  Coldwater 203 linecounter with 15-lb. mono main line will be the most used rod this month. Attach a Captain Mack’s 1.5-oz. Swivel Sinker or a 1.25-oz. StriperTackle Pro Pencil swivel weight to the main line and then tie on 3 to 4 feet of 10- to 12-lb. fluorocarbon leader with a No. 2 Gamakatsu Octopus Circle at the end. January stripers can be very finicky, and reducing your hook and leader size to match the small trout, herring or medium shiners you will be using will keep these baits moving around more naturally and will get you those extra bites. We are seeing a good population of 28- to 32-inch (9 to 12 pounds) fish this winter. These 4 1/2- to 5 1/2-year-old fish will eat a bigger bait quicker, so switch up at least one downline to a 1/0 or 2/0 circle hook and pin a medium trout or medium gizzard shad in the 7- to 9-inch range on. Oakwood Bait and Tackle keeps a great supply of all these baits, as well as any tackle you will need. All of these fish, as well as the smaller fish, will be around large concentrations of bait in 30 to 60 feet of water, and you will be fishing your baits anywhere from 2 feet to about 15 feet off the bottom. Use your Humminbird SOLIX to find these large concentrations of bait toward the backs of any creek on the lake. Favorites will be Bald Ridge, Shoal, Flat, Ada, Little River, Thompson, Yellow and Johnson. Artificials for this month will be Captain Mack’s Mini Macks to search for spread-out fish and Super Spoons on schools of fish you find around the bait. Most of these deep fish will be caught using your Minn Kota Ulterra and utilizing the Auto Pilot and Cruise Control features to move around these schools of fish at up to about 1 mph or using the Spot-Lock feature to sit on top of the schools. When you mark these schools of fish relating to the bait, then put your Mini Macks out 20 to 30 feet down and stealth troll on the trolling motor around the area until you find them again. This is becoming the go-to technique for the top guides during the winter because we can cover more water running 1 mph than we can sitting still. The white, 5/8- or 3/4-oz. Super Spoon with silver or blue foil are the same size as the shad that you will see these fish spit up, so keep one tied on to drop down to any fish you see on the bottom around the large concentrations of bait you will find with your SOLIX.  I said it at least three times so far, but find the bait because the fish will be close by. As we start this New Year, remember that God has always been with us. We began our journey with God from the creation of Adam and Eve. He is omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent in our lives. This has always and always will be, and we cannot hide from Him. He is here for us and his primary goal for us is grace (receiving something that we do not deserve). Start 2024 knowing that it is possible for us to live without shame because He came, He died and He rose so that our sins would be forgiven if we just trust in Him.”

Capt. Clay Cunningham, of Catching Not Fishing Lake Lanier Fishing Guides, reports, “In December, we experienced some of the best fishing of the year. January looks to be headed that way, as well. The stripers have followed the bait into the creeks. Finding the deep bait on your electronics, like the Humminbird Solix, is of utmost importance. Great electronics are critical. Downlines have been catching the bulk of the fish with live herring and trout. Rig up two Shakespeare Striper Rods paired with Penn Fathom Linecounters as downlines with a 2-oz. Captain Mack’s Swivel Sinker, a Berkley Fluorocarbon leader and a 2/0 Gamakatsu octopus hook for the trout. Then two Shakespeare Striper Rods with the same setup but a size 1 Gamakatsu hook for the herring. So far this winter the downline has been best, but for a big fish, don’t rule out a freeline. A freeline with a nice-sized trout will be hard to beat over the same areas of deep bait, especially on cloudy days. The water quality is great right now, so be prepared for all techniques. If you see fish up shallow, be sure to have a spinning rod like a Penn Battle III 3000 rigged up with no more than 10-lb. Trilene Big Game. Most of the time a small, 1/4-oz. Berkley Fusion Bucktail will do the trick. White is the dominant color here on Lanier with the clear water. As a whole, fishing should be great this month, plus no crowds. Each year I find I like the winter months better than the summer months. Time to go catching.”

Crappie: Capt. Josh Thornton reports, “The majority of our catch has been coming from suspended fish 8 to 10 feet deep on open-water brush and docks. I am using small minnows with a split-shot straight down 8 to 10 feet deep. I have also been doing well with the ATX Wicked Shad in the bluegrass color. It’s getting time to start trolling for or Livescoping for big roaming crappie in the backs of creeks. The gear I recommend for crappie fishing is an ACC Crappie Stix one-piece rod and reel with a 6-lb. test  K9 line, along with Garmin Livescope and Power-Pole. For more information and tips, please visit my websites and”

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