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  • Writer's pictureCapt. Andrew Hammond

March 1, 2024 Lake Lanier Striper and Crappie Fishing Report

I have today off so why not shoot the March report out a day early. That’s about the end of the winter temps after that cold front last night, finally! You know we always get one little stray pop but it's upper 60's and higher here on out. The water temperature also spiked and the fish are acting accordingly in a great way.

Lake Lanier is currently 1070.97’ MSL, only .03’ below full pool. Surface temps are pushing the mid 50's and I have seen 60’s midday in the creek backs recently.

The Stripers are very healthy and feeding well. On the mid to upper end of the pond I have been starting early mornings halfway to all the way back of the creeks. Locate the bait. And not just bait, the Swiss cheese bait is what I like to call it. Bait you see on your graph that looks pushed around and holes punched in it. At the depths I’m targeting, 20-50’ bottom, you don’t have to mark much fish. A lot of times just mark a few and there will be more hugging the bottom that you can’t really see while scanning/searching at a high speed. Start the morning pulling freelines and planer boards with a mixed bag of small trout, herring (if you can find them), and shiners. As the sun gets high pay attention to the fish and bait depth you are marking, as well as what they are wanting that week, day, hour. That being said come prepared with a variety or baits, and tackle to cover the different zones in the water column. Winter/Spring means fronts. The atmospheric pressure often times dictates the bait and predator fish depths. High fish try pulling freelines/planers, deep you will be deploying your downlines. Lastly, on sunny days don’t let the muddy stained water detour you. We are catching good fish all the way in the creek backs in less that 10’ of water. With the water temps really shooting up there has been fish all over the water column, from the surface down to 60 plus feet. There has been a slight open water bite developing anywhere from the mouths of creeks to the river channel. Pulling boards/freelines with a combination of a couple downlines have been working well in this situation. When these fish seem to want to window shop your live baits the trolling bite has been really good. Both pulling the Captain Mack U-Rigs or the Mini Mack’s on leadcore..Or stealth trolling the Mini’s. With the warm temp climbing, be on the lookout for some surface schooling activity. If you are in the right place at the right time freelined live pitch baits, a small bucktail or soft plastic jigs have been very hard to beat. Toss it in the middle of the activity and hold on! That’s my favorite way to stick those schoolers.

I have to touch a little on Crappie fishing this time of year. One of my favorite freshwater species to target and take home! That's right, "Specks" are some 5 star, fine dinning if you can catch em'. In the months of January-March, before they go shallow to spawn, is the best time to target these large schools under deep water docks. We either "shoot" light 1/32 oz jigs under the docks, in slips, under boats, or fish them vertically next to the docks. Crappie like to suspend in the darkest shadows under covered docks in the hardest to reach places. In places that seem impossible to get to. One method to catch em' is shooting. This is not casting, pitching, or flipping. To shoot a jig, point your spinning rod towards your target. The bail needs to be flipped and finger on the line just like you're casting. However, you pull the jig back towards you while loading the rod tip. You should be down low to the water with all 3, the rod, the water line, and the line you are pulling back all equally parallel to each other. When ready release the jig and your trigger finger. This does take practice. A good way to get some reps in at home is to drop your garage door down with about a foot of clearance and a couple boxes set up on the left and right side. Keep shooting and when you think you got it down shrink your target even more. I like a 6' medium light with a fast tip paired with 4 lb high vis mono for my dock shooting rod. Note, this is not the same setup I use for casting or live bait. Here is one of the biggest tips I can suggest if you're new to this type of fishing or the dock shooting is not catching on.. Remember, this time of year the sun is always at an angle. It is not directly over our heads. Pay attention to the shadow of the docks. You don't always have to fish under the docks. If you play the timing and the shadows right those fish will push outside enough for you to drop on them vertically. Keep that in mind next time you're finding it tough to get those jigs to the fish, let them push out to you.

This is the time of year fishing is finally on the mind for most after a long winter. With the warm and pleasant weather ahead of us, I’m booking up pretty solid for the spring but have some weekdays to fill. The sooner the better, check your calendar and get on the books soon to get those days that you're looking for. Call or text for availability and let’s get those rods bent!

Tight Lines,

Capt. Andrew Hammond


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