Lake Lanier Fishing Report March 2015

GON Staff | February 25, 2015

Lanier: Level: 0.4 feet below full pool. Temp: Low to mid 40s. Clarity: Lightly stained on the main lake with stain in the backs of the creeks.

Spotted Bass:
Fishing conditions have been tough with cold, rainy and frozen precipitation, but tournament pro Patrick Bone said there are two good patterns to try this time of year for Lanier’s big spotted bass. He catches his bass close to deep water but near the areas where they want to spawn. Rocky points and humps near the spawning areas and ditches are structure to concentrate on. Patrick’s go-to bait is a brown-craw colored Booyah Pigskin football jig. He likes a 1/2-oz. or a 3/4-oz. jig, depending on the conditions. Patrick uses a Yum Craw Chunk trailer for the jig, usually in a green-pumpkin/purple color, and he often dips the tails in orange dye. Another bait to try for these staging spotted bass is a mid-range Bomber BD7 crankbait in a crawfish color pattern. Finally, it’s a great time to try a jerkbait for active spots. Patrick prefers a Rouge Elite 8 jerkbait. When the bass are in the ditches, Patrick said to slow-roll a 1/2-oz. Fish Head Spin threaded with a Yum Money Minnow on 12-lb. InvisX line. For more on Patrick’s techniques for Lanier’s prespawn spots, along with 10 GPS locations, see the feature article in the February GON or online at

Big Fish On Lake Lanier Guide Service reports, “There is a shallow-water, early morning bite using herring, threadfin and gizzard shad on freelines and planer boards. Once the sun gets up, weight your lines with several split shots, deploy your downrods in addition to your freelines, and move to deeper water. The bait has been moving to a depth of 25 to 40 feet over 40- to 80-foot bottom. If you are not marking any bait, move until you do, and fish there. This pattern should hold as long as the water temperature stays in the mid 40s range. If the water temperatures dips into the low 40s, we will start to see a threadfin shad die off, and the stripers will get locked in on these small baitfish. This will require you to fish with smaller baits in an attempt to match the small threadfins. You may also want to reduce your trolling speed to .3 to .5 miles per hour. There are fish in every creek with high concentrations of bait. However, Flat, Balus and Four Mile creeks are hard to beat this time of year. Striper fishing in March on Lake Lanier is one of transition from late winter to early spring. The water temperature is the key, and as the temperature increases from the low 40s to the mid 50s, it triggers a striper’s prespawn instincts. The stripers become very aggressive and start to transition from small threadfin shad to chasing down larger baits, like gizzard shad, trout and herring in an effort to pack on some additional weight. The go-to technique during the winter and early spring months is pulling live bait on freelines and planer boards. However, as the temperature progresses during the month, you will want to move from the deeper water in the creeks to the shallow flats and long sloping points; paying particular attention to flats and points that get the most sun. These areas warm faster than the deeper water and will attract the baitfish as well as the stripers. You will also want to use larger baits and change your trolling speed often which helps keep your baits working. As you change speeds from .3 miles per hour to 1.3 miles per hour, your baits will get active and help in attracting a big striper. We cannot stress the importance of keeping someone on the front deck casting a Captain Mack’s bucktail jig and a Redfin while you are pulling bait. You have a good chance of getting a reaction bite that you may not have gotten from live bait. You can find fish lake wide in the backs of the creeks and in the rivers.” Guide Clay Cunningham reports, “Now is the peak time to catch the biggest fish in Lake Lanier as the fish prepare for the spring spawn. The big females have to eat, and they are moving shallow for the warmer water from the sun, greatly increasing your odds. With the fish shallow, you are less likely to lose the fish to the deep timber. Live bait will be the best bet for the big females. Do not be afraid to pull a 1-lb. gizzard shad up in the shallows. You need to use a little heavier line with the big baits. Most of the time with the big gizzards we spool up with 20-lb. Trilene Big Game and a 20-lb. fluorocarbon leader. At other times, freelining blueback herring will be the best technique. We typically use a little lighter line, 15-lb. test, on the herring to give them a little more action. Also, be sure to use as small a hook as possible on the herring. Most of the time use a 2/0 Gamakatsu Octopus hook. Using too large of a hook is the most common mistake due to it slowing the bait down and not looking natural. Lastly, do not forget about the night bite. Casting artificials like the Bomber Long A into the shallows can be exciting when a big fish crushes your lure 5 feet off the bank.”

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