Lake Lanier Fishing Report – March 2022

GON Staff | February 24, 2022

Lanier: Level: 0.5 feet above 1071. Temp: 48 degrees. Clarity: Clear in the main lake, the rivers are still stained to muddy. 

Bass: Jimbo, from Jimbo’s Lake Lanier Spotted Bass Guide Service,, “Fishing during late February and March can provide some interesting opportunities. The largemouth will be soon to spawn and the spots will begin to stage in preparation for the spawn. The lake level has been above full pool as we head out of February and the temperatures have been above normal so far this winter, which could mean an early spawn if this trend continues, and it seems like it will. This could provide some different opportunities for this March as we should find different trends and patterns this spring as a result of the warmer-than-normal weather trends. Let’s explore how to address this important month on Lanier in these unusual weather and water conditions. There are a few things to consider when fishing during this time of year. You will be fishing the prespawn in March and maybe an advanced prespawn based on the weather, so let’s start with the end in mind and review the spawning habits of both the largemouth and spots. The largemouth in the lake will physically go on the bed with water temperatures at 56 to 58 degrees. The spotted bass will spawn a bit later when the water temperatures reach 62 degrees or above. Typically, the fish spawn in waves rather than all at once. After the first wave of fish completes their spawning routine, there will be fish in all stages of the spawn for the next 30 to 45 days, depending on the weather conditions and water temperatures. Further, it is important to understand that many fish that spawn in waves as mentioned above, do so during a favorable moon phase, given the noted water temperature requirements are met. The full and new moon phases often prompt fish to move into their spawning routine. Until those conditions are met, fish will be staging and feeding up in preparation for this process. So, where do we need to look? The largemouth in Lake Lanier tend to spawn shallower than the spotted bass. The largemouth can be found bedding in creek pockets, often in the backs of these pockets, in a protected area. They will position themselves next to a piece of cover, such as a blowdown tree or stump, for security and are often in 3 feet of water or less. Look around docks in shallow water for these fish, as well as stumps and adjacent blowdowns. The spotted bass can frequently be found in similar areas but often prefer a hard-bottom-type area. And again, the spots will typically spawn deeper than the largemouth and can be found in 6 to 15 feet of water and even deeper. Unlike most largemouth, there are a contingency of the spotted bass that will spawn on the main lake. These fish can be found on or around humps, points and sandy saddles between islands on the main lake. These females are often some of the biggest fish in the lake. Until the time when the fish spawn in these areas, fish key features adjacent to these spawning areas. Secondary points and docks often provide great staging areas for these fish and become a prime target this time of year. The spots will be in the same types of places to spawn and will stage in similar areas, as well. Now that we have explored the locations where fish can be found during the spawn, let’s examine some of the techniques and lures that can be used to catch these fish. Jerkbaits are a great choice as the water warms up though the 50s. Work these baits around docks, points and over humps. A Berkley Stunna is a good option. Experiment with cadence to find the right retrieve speed and pause cycle. The colder the water, the longer the pause. A Georgia Blade Shad Spin in the 1/4-oz. size is an excellent choice to work in shallow creek ditches as well as in and around secondary points and docks. Experiment with trailer size and type. A Berkley Jerk Shad is a good option for a trailer. A crankbait is an excellent choice to cover water in the backs of creeks and pockets, as well as around secondary points, docks and flats this time of year. The Berkley Frittside crankbait or the Berkley Dredger are good options to cover the varying depth ranges until you find the best one for the day’s conditions. They offer many good shad and crayfish patterns from which to choose. And as always, make sure to visit our local treasure, Hammond’s Fishing Center, to pick up what you need. The worm and jig are always options in the springtime. A Georgia Jig on rocky/clay secondary points and around docks is always a good choice for spots or largemouth.  If the fish are ultra-finicky, don’t forget the old reliable Carolina rig to present your soft plastics. Drag or drift this rig slowly over secondary points or spawning flats for some potentially awesome results. Also, when fishing a Georgia Blade jig head and worm combo, consider using a lighter jig head. I often choose a 1/8-oz. head or lighter to target spawning fish. I will often tip this with a 4-inch Berkley Hit Worm, as opposed to a traditional offering of 6 inches or more. I often work the baits slowly in this situation to trigger strikes. While the winter to spring/early spawn transition can be a tricky time of year to catch fish, it can be awesome if you remain versatile and open-minded in your approach. Use the tips and techniques noted above to guide your fishing during the spawn, and you will enjoy some great success. See you on the water!”

Stripers: Capt. Ron Mullins, of The Striper Experience, reports, “March on Lanier is the beginning of my favorite few months on the lake. This is the month when stripers will begin to feed near the surface and the planer board/flatline bite will heat up. Pulling bluebacks, shad, trout and shiners will all be productive this month, especially as the water warms into the mid to upper 50s. Most of March is a prespawn pattern where the stripers are getting ready to head to their spawning areas up the river arms and even to the area around the dam, and they are feeding hard to gain strength for the spawn that will happen in April. First thing in the morning, target main-lake points and prominent points in creeks like Ada, Gainesville, Wahoo, Little River on the Hooch side and Thompson, Toto and Yellow River on the Tee side. A spread of planer boards on either side of the boat would start with an Okuma Striper Rod paired with an Okuma Coldwater line counter loaded with 17- to 20-lb. main line with a bead above a premium swivel. Next attach a 4- to 6-foot, 12- to 17-lb. fluorocarbon leader (depending on water clarity), to a No. 2 to 4/0 Gamakatsu circle hook (depending on bait size). Hook your bait in the mouth, through the upper jaw and then out between the nostrils. Do not hook the bait through the lower jaw as this will not allow the bait to open and close its mouth as it pulls water across its gills. Let the bait 50 to 100 feet out and then attach your Captain Mack’s Perfect Planer Board to the line. The Perfect Planer Board line is one of the only boards that makes a small and large board to accommodate any size of bait or lure that you want to pull behind them. The small 7-inch board is perfect for herring, small shad, shiners or small trout. The bigger 10-inch board works great for larger shad over 8 inches, giant, 15-inch trout and even Mini Mack’s or trolling lead core with big jigs in the summer. We will run two sets of boards off each side of the boat. After letting the bait out, we attach the board to the line and run the outer board out 60 to 70 more feet so that we will have 110 to 120 feet of line out and then run the inside board out 30 to 35 feet and be showing 80 to 85 feet of line off the reel. Your flat lines will be run 75 to 125 feet straight back behind the boat. This will be our basic six-rod setup all the way through May. The Captain Mack’s Mini Mack bite has also been very productive this winter and will continue into the spring. Drop your white head/white grub trailer in clearer water 25 to 35 feet deep and then attach your Perfect Planer Board and run it in place of your live-bait presentation. If you are in more stained water, the blue head/chartreuse grub has been very effective. Pull this spread 0.8-1.2 mph over points and humps in 15 to 35 feet of water in all the areas described above. If you are fishing in the afternoons, this technique will be the best bet for a bigger fish using a bigger bait and targeting south-facing rocky points that tend to warm a bit more in the winter in 5 to 25 feet of water. Let God be the Lord of all in your life or He will be the Lord of nothing in your life. This includes your money. Don’t let your finances be your master. Let them work for you and your service to God. Matthew 6:24.”

Stripers: Capt. Clay Cunningham reports, “The stripers have been very, very deep all winter here on Lanier, but they are finally making a move into shallower water. The water temperature has been in the high 40s but is finally climbing into the low 50s. The recent rains stained a good portion of the lake and as a result the stained, shallow water has started to warm with the sun. The stain from the rain progressed all the way down to Highway 53. As a result, freelines will most likely become the primary tactic in March. Rig up a Penn Fathom Linecounter reel with 15-lb. Trilene Big Game line, a 12-lb. Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon leader, a Spro 80-lb. Power Swivel and a Gamakatsu 1/0 octopus hook tipped with the herring. This setup is the Lanier staple. The Penn Fathom Linecounter really helps your success rate as you are able to know exactly how far back your baits are behind the boat. Start at 120 feet and make changes as necessary. Some days a small split-shot or an additional 30 feet of line can make a huge difference from day to day. Pull the freelines at 1 mph across humps and points and in some cases over open water. This bite will be lake wide. Keep your eyes open for any signs of fish on the surface to help find the most productive areas. Also don’t forget about gizzard shad. With more big fish starting to show up, do not be afraid to pull a dollar-bill-size shad on a 4/0 Gamakatsu octopus hook right on the bank using a Perfect Planer Board. Some of the biggest females will be in the warmest, shallow water they can find. With some of the fish moving shallow, keep a Penn Battalion 7-foot medium-light spinning rod paired with a Penn Conflict with light line on the deck. Tie on a Captain Mack’s 1/4-oz. bucktail in white or chartreuse or a Berkley Fusion 1/4-oz. jig head tipped with a white Jerk Shad and beat the bank. Some days the plastics will  outperform the live bait. Also start thinking about a Berkley Surge Shad in bone later in the month. The topwater bite will be around the corner. If you can’t tell, I am already looking forward to April.” 

Crappie: Capt. Josh Thornton reports, “Docks have been the ticket this week. Look for docks in 20 to 40 feet of water. Try several color combinations until you find one that works and that will probably be your color for the day. One color combo that has been working well is pink and chartreuse. The bite is slow and soft, so keep a close eye on your line. You may see the line swimming away before the rod bends over. Crappie minnows work well year-round. Try a freelined minnow (no sinker) when the crappie are schooling near the top. I am fishing minnows 10 to 12 feet deep over brush. Look for covered docks that have brush under or nearby, and a good depth range would be 20 to 40 feet and near a main channel. Use your electronics to locate structure or brushpiles. Crappie love the shade so cast into the shadows. When dock shooting, the biggest fish are usually the first to bite. I’m using Skippers Jig Moon Jigs. Use the promo code ‘heroes’ when ordering. I’m using ATX Lure Company plastics. I use 5-lb. test high-visibility yellow braid for my line (unless I am using a bobber) and a Piscifun reel on an ACC Crappie Stix. I use Garmin LiveScope and the Navionics Boating app. Find me on Facebook and like my pages @crappieonlanier and @fishingwitheverydayheroes.”


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