Lanier: Level: 5.1 feet below full pool. Temp: Upper 40s. Clarity: Mostly clear down the lake; some color in parts of the upper lake.
Spotted Bass: Good. Guide Ryan Coleman reports, “The lake has come up about 10 feet this winter. The recent rains have really been bringing up the lake along with the reduced release rate from the corps. We could be full by late March in time for the spawn. The fish are starting to move up for the prespawn as you would expect. Look for the docks and secondary points to be the No. 1 pattern going through the spring on Lake Lanier. This is a consistent thing from year to year due to the design of Lanier. There is so little shallow structure over most of the lake, docks and points are the most consistent pattern. Working a jerkbait around the docks as well as in the backs of the pockets on sunny days is a very trustworthy pattern. This will produce very good fish throughout March. I like the Megabass Vision or Spro McStick along with the Luck Craft Pointer 100 jerkbaits. I tend to stick with the bigger baits for Lanier as the spotted bass are just not scared of anything. Also work a Creepy Crawler rigged on a SpotSticker 1/8- or 1/4 -oz.stand-up crawler head around the docks and points all spring for the fish that are getting ready to spawn. This bait will produce big catches on Lanier year-round but is deadly on spawning fish. Cinnamon or green-pumpkin Yamamoto 5-inch Hula Grubs are my favorite. The most-common patterns are to work the jerkbait on windy points and pockets along with fishing a SpotSticker jig-head rig around the shady docks all throughout the lake. Green and blue colors on your plastics are good choices anytime on Lanier, but don’t forget about sand-colored worms throughout the spring. Early in March, there could be a few fish still out deep that will eat a jig or worm worked through the timber. Don’t think all the fish move up at once. There are always some stubborn fish out deep that could be avoiding the pressure in March. As March nears its end, look for the spinnerbait bite to start to pick up. For me, I like the water warmer than 55 for the blade bite and prefer it closer to 60 degrees. A double silver or double white willowleaf Mini-Me worked around the shoreline structure or over the steep points can be deadly for big staging females.”
Largemouth: Good. “March is shaping up to be a great month to target largemouth,” said guide and tournament pro Billy Boothe. “The water level is rising, and it has some color to it, which will make it a lot easier to power fish. The jig bite has been very strong for me recently. I’m targeting mid-depth pockets and skipping a 3/8-oz. Mann’s Stone Jig under dock floats. Most of my bites are coming on the fall, and if there’s brush present, it’s even better. I’m using black and blue up the lake and brown down the lake. When the water temp hits 52 degrees, the shallow crankbait bite should start to pick up. Look for stained shallow pockets that have a mixture of rock and sand, and throw a spring-craw colored Mann’s Baby X square-bill crankbait. Bang it off the rocks. When we get some windy days, pick up a tandem chartreuse-and-white Mann’s The Classic Spinnerbait, and cover as much water as you can. If you hit enough windy pockets and secondary points, you will run into to some good fish.”
Stripers: Good. Guide Mike Maddalena reports, “The lake is level is rising, and with rain in the forecast we may be at full pool soon. If the lake starts to cool, consider using smaller baits like small herring, threadfin shad or medium minnows. When the water gets into the mid 40s, the stripers become lethargic, do not want to chase big baits and are feeding on small threadfin shad. The key has been herring on freelines and planner boards over 20- to 30-foot flats halfway back in the creeks early in the mornings. While you are pulling bait, keep one person on the front deck casting a Captain Mack’s 3/8-oz. bucktail jig. Keep your eyes open for stripers rolling on threadfin shad. Keep a spinning rod with a small hook and a weighted float available to cast a small bait at any rolling fish you find. As the day progresses, weight your lines with one to three split shots, and work your way out to the creek channel over a 50- to 70-foot bottom. You should be fishing over bait. Do not bother fishing if you are not marking bait on your Lowrance. Move until you find bait. There are fish in every creek with high concentrations of bait. Umbrella rigs are working and can be used as a search tool late mornings and early afternoon. I have had some luck using a four-arm umbrella with nine 1-oz. jigs pulled 80 feet back at 3 miles per hour. Flat Creek, Balus Creek, Big Creek, Six Mile Creek and any of the creeks with a high concentration of bait are all good places to start. However, consider fishing a creek you do not typically fish and one that does not get a lot of pressure. This is where you are going to find the bigger fish. As we move into March and the water starts to warm, it will be time for pulling large live bait to catch that personal best. As the water warms, the fish will move up on the points and flats for that final push to put on weight before the spawn. The stripes will start staging for annual migrations. Often the afternoon bite is better for the big fish, as the shallows will have additional time to warm.” Guide Shane Watson reports, “Looks like an early spring this year on Lake Lanier. The stripers are moving back in the creeks, and the crappie are feeding well. Up the lake, our boats have done well on the stripers using downlined bluebacks and trout fished 30 to 40 feet deep over a 35- to 50-foot bottom. Down the lake, freelines have worked best in the backs to the middle of creeks. Trout, bluebacks and gizzard shad are all working on a freeline. When the fish have been up boiling on the surface, white lead-head flukes combined with an accurate cast will catch one every time. Some days the birds are a help, some days not. We have caught stripers under birds with and without loons, so hit every opportunity you see. Capt. Mack’s 4-arm U-rigs are also working well when the fish have been up in the water column and active. It’s great to see the lake level coming up again. If we can keep this pace of inflow, it will be full by summer.”
Note: The Lanier Striped Bass Coalition will be having its 2nd annual Striped Bass Scale Collection tournament on April 27 out of Little Hall.