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Outdoors: New year brings fish in shallow
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Forsyth County News

Water conditions: Lake temperatures are warm for this time of year and are in the mid 50s. Lake Lanier’s water level is well above full fool at 1,072.84 feet which is 1.84 above a full pool of 1,071. The lake is clear on main lake and the creeks and rivers are stained in the mouths and stained to muddy in the backs from recent rains. The Chattahoochee River is clear to slightly stained below Buford Dam. Check generation schedules before heading out to the river at 770-945-1466.

This past week many anglers have been using some of their well-deserved vacation to spend quality time with their families and to also get out to get out and enjoy the great outdoors and the fine fishing we are so blessed with here in North Georgia! My hope is that your 2013 year has gone well and that 2014 will be even better! I appreciate and thank you all for reading these fishing reports and sincerely wish you a prosperous and blessed 2014

Bass: The high lake levels have dock owners and others wondering what will happen when spring rains come but it is still nice to see the lake full. There is an old fishing adage that says when the lake water rises, fish move shallow. While that is often true you may often find fish deep when the lake is full. This past week we have continued to find spotted bass shallow and deep.

My friend and I were fishing a shallow cove that really had nothing to special looking about it and pulled up to a rocky point that topped out around 3 foot deep and fell into water less than 20 foot deep. The water was 55 degrees and we just sat in one area and caught some nice keeper spotted bass on almost every cast for almost an hour before the action subsided. These fish were not very large but they were fat and had been eating small threadfin shad. It sure was fun to catch shallow bass like this in the winter. The fish hit SPRO Arku Shads (a lure similar to a Rattle Trap) and Big Bite Finesse Worms rigged on ounce Alien Head. They were just ganged up in shallow water eating small threadfin shad that were probably feeding on plankton and other microscopic material that had washed into the lake from recent rains.

The bigger fish have been relating to ditches in the creeks and off of main lake in the coves and cuts both up and down lake. These ditches are roads that the bass follow as the move from deep to shallow water in search of food. If there is rock or brush around these ditches than that just increases your odds that fish will be present. Rocky banks and bottoms have really been key areas to target for bass this year. Slow rolling a willow leaf Mini-Me Spinner bait around the rocky points and humps has been a great way to catch fish in the rocks. Slow your lure down so that the blades just barley spin and that your lure deflects of the bottom. This same lure and retrieve work very well in the warmer months but right now some big bass are eating the spinner baits. A smaller Fish Head Spin with a Big Bites Jerk Minnow or Cane Thumper or try this new lure. Take a Pulse Jig and attach a Wayne’s Baits Trailer to the end. These are an extremely cool soft plastic that look boring in the package but really come alive when you add them to Pulse Head jig head.

Stripers: The Stripers fishing continues to be very good for the anglers that are putting in time on the water and the rest of us who read here. This can seem to make it difficult for many of us that work regular jobs because there is really no replacement for time spent on the lake. Stripers will usually get locked into a few different patterns depending on weather patterns and what the baitfish they are targeting are doing. This is a lot to take into consideration but when you also mention which area of the lake you are fishing it can seem like an unsurmountable task to figure out just what do. The good news is that most tackle stores will give you good information of what bait works best, where to go and what to do. Tackle shops want customers to be successful so you will come back and buy more bait Plus remember that the Department of Natural Resources stocks tens of thousands of stripers on the lake and there are many fish that will bite your lines so the odds are in your favor.’

The stripers have been shallow in the water column all day long even when they move back and forth from deep water into shallower coves and pockets. They have been up feeding in shallow water early and late in the days. Stripers can be located both in the creeks and also out on main lake depending on where the bait is located.

God has provided all of us with the best fish finders in the world – the many aquatic birds like seagulls, loons, kingfishers and even blue heron. Often a single gull or king fisher can give away a huge school of fish. Gulls get very excited when they see fish pushing bait to the surface and they make a loud shrill noise that will get your attention. Watch to see if the gulls are circling and if you see a whole flock diving in small area then that is a great place to fish around.

Flat lined baits have been working well. Adding planner boards to your fishing arsenal will help you to cover a wider area and increase your odds of catching striper. Planer boards enable anglers to get a bait up close to the banks, which can be key when the stripers are up shallow. You can drag trout, blue backs, gizzards and threadfin shad depending on what type of bait the stripers are eating. You can’t go wrong dragging a small trout around feeding stripers.

Trolling Umbrella rigs remains a very strong pattern. Set out a Captain Macs 4 arm umbrella rig rigged with SPRO Bucktails and troll these midway on back into the creeks both up and down lake. Troll at around 2 miles an hour and speed up or slow down as needed. Watch your Humminbird electronics and go back over areas where you caught fish or where you see them on your screen.

Crappie: Not many reports are coming from crappie anglers but I know that they are biting as we caught a few on bass lures and also saw some anglers catching them while fishing from the inside of a covered dock and listening to the radio. The crappie are still around docks in brush piles around 15 foot deep. Use light line and place a hook and minnow two feet above a jig tipped with a live minnow and cast or drop this double rig down around brush and wood. Trolling or lake raking with multiple rods fished very slowly in the coves where clearer water meets the stained or muddy water is a great pattern to use in early January to start catching slabs!

Trout: Trout fishing is a little slower this week just because the rater is a little stained top muddy from recent rains but they will still bite. Year round trout streams and rivers still have plenty of hold over trout and be caught on spinning gear, fly fishing and live bait (where permitted by law) like live earth worms fished on a weighted line below the rapids.

Bank fishing: Striper fishing is the most popular bank fishing activity in winter and live bait is the most widely used method. You can float a live gizzard shad or trout with a balloon when the wind is blowing away from the banks. Or try a modified bottom with a jumbo shiner out and let it settle on the bottom and secure your rod with a quality rod holder or homemade PVC Pipe pounded into the bank.

Eric Aldrich is an outdoor writer, marketing specialist and bass angler. Reports are based on personal experience and permission from a close network of friends. I would love to hear from our readers so please email me at or visit my website at