Lanier: Level: 4.6 feet low. Temp: Mid to upper 40s. Clarity: Clear on the main lake and lightly stained in the creeks.
Bass: Guide Ryan Coleman reports, “There is a small shad kill going on, and it has changed the fishing. There are some big fish up shallow, but you have to work hard to catch them. Main-lake rocky places are your best bet for the really big fish right now. I would work a 10-foot-diving crankbait or a worm rigged on a jig head very slow on the rock. Work from 5 to 20 feet deep. For plastics, try a 6-inch Finesse Stick from SpotSticker Baits in either green pumpkin/green or electric shad on a 3/16-oz. screwball jig head. This new plastic bait is perfect for the spotted bass on Lanier. As the day rolls on, work out in the timber edges from 30 to 50 feet of water with a green-craw casting jig or worm rigged on a jig head, but take your time. There are some big fish out there, but you just have to pluck them out of the heavy cover. As we get a little warmer weather in the next few weeks, look for the jerkbait bite to really fire up, as well as the dock bite once the surface temps hit the 50-degree mark.”
Stripers: Guide Clay Cunningham reports, “After a very cold December and early January, the weather has now bounced around all over the place. So far the stripers and even a good number of bass have been exceptionally deep with the deep bait. Some of the bait has been 80 to 110 feet deep. There have been a few fish shallow that can be easy to catch but not big numbers. We need a little warm weather to pull this bait out of the depths. Hopefully February will begin to show signs of warming up and the bait making a rush to the backs of the creeks. Live bait has continued to be the best pattern over the deep bait. As the bait condenses in the creeks, this pattern will not change much, except that they will progressively move shallower as spring gets closer and closer. Be prepared with as many rods as possible. Keep as many Shakespeare striper rods rigged as possible with Penn Squall Linecounter reels spooled with 15-lb. Trilene Big Game. Rig several of these striper rods with a freeline, which consists of Spro Power Swivel, a 5-foot leader of 100% Trilene Flourocarbon and a Gamakatsu No. 2 Octopus hook for the herring. If medium shiners are working, be sure to use a No. 6 Gamakatsu Octopus hook. Just as important is to rig several rods with downlines. The downline is really just a Carolina rig for live bait. Tie on a 2-oz. Capt. Mack swivel sinker, a 5-foot leader of the same Trilene 100% 10-lb. flourocarbon and the same Gamakatsu Octopus hooks. These hooks are tiny but incredibly strong. Great electronics, like the Humminbird Solix, will greatly increase your success. You should be able to see your bait almost hit the fish on the head with the electronics. With today’s units, you can even see the bait swimming around on the hook. If you want to use artificials, the Capt. Mack 3/8-oz. and 1/4-oz. bucktails will come into play in February. In clear water, go with the white bucktail and the chartreuse in stained water. Rig up a Penn Conflict 3000 or a Penn Battle 3000 with 10-lb. Trilene Big Game on a 7-foot medium Penn rod, and you are ready for battle. This pattern will be best once the bait moves to the backs of the creeks. The first hour of daylight can be worth the effort to get out early. Also of note, February can be the big-fish month of the year as the females begin to feel the urge of the spring spawn.” Big Fish On Guide Service reports, “Most of the fish have moved into the creeks. Not every creek will be holding stripers, but if you locate the creeks with bait and birds, the stripers will be there. Your best bet is to fish the bait. The pattern has been shallow bait in the mornings and bait moving deeper once the sun gets up by mid-morning. Deploy freelines and planer boards when you find shallow (less than 20 feet) bait. Herring, gizzard shad and small trout are all good baits, but do not hesitate to downsize to medium shiners if you see signs the fish are feeding on small threadfin. Set your trolling motor speed between 0.3 to 1.0 mph. Vary the distance of your baits behind the boat/boards and the weight on your freelines to cover a variety of water depths. We use split-shots to weight some of our freelines. When you find the best distance, weight and speed, replicate those settings to the majority of your lines. Keep someone on the front deck casting a Captain Mack’s 1/2-oz. bucktail jig with a fluke. As the bait moves deeper, switch to downlines and fish a water column both above and below the bait. As always, the wintertime go-to creeks are Flat Creek, Four Mile Creek and Balus Creek. However, the creeks with high concentrations of bait will hold fish.”