A few warmer days and a little rain have raised the water temperature and level at Lake Lanier just enough to make the ravenous striped bass population hungry. For those who relish the brute power exhibited by one of these big linesided predators on the end of a fishing line, explosive battles are happening right now!
Though little or no surface activity is being seen on many outings, plenty of stripers are feeding heavily just below the surface. Therefore, it’s possible to hook as many as ten stripers over twenty pounds on a single outing and it only takes one of those big fish to make a trip worthwhile.
Live bait seems to be the best method for catching big striped bass at this time, but don’t make the mistake of thinking that something alive on the end of the line is going to automatically draw stripers from all over the lake. Angling with live bait often has almost as many variables as fishing with artificial lures.
The best bait during periods when the water temperature is cold is a lively rainbow trout that can be purchased at several bait stores around the lake. The best way to fish these baits right now is by using a flat line, which is simply a #2/0 circle hook tied to about 4 feet of leader material with a barrel swivel the other end of the line. Tie the swivel to the end of the line that is coming from the reel. The trout is then attached by pushing hook up through the lower jaw and out through the nostril. Feed the line out until the bait is behind the boat 50 to 100 feet, and use the electric trolling motor or the wind to keep the boat drifting slowly. Engage the reel with the drag set light enough to allow line to be taken from the spool after a strike, and either hold the rod or place it in a rod holder. The depth of the bait can easily be controlled with this method by the speed of the drift.
On some days, the striped bass tend to remain a little deeper in the same areas, but these too can be caught. Just cut the line at the top of the swivel, slide a 1 or 2 ounce egg sinker on the line and retie the complete leader and hook assembly. Allow this rig to fall to the depth that you have seen larger fish on your sonar unit. In most cases, this accomplished much better by using reels with line counters that give you the exact depth.
Few fishing experiences can match the excitement of battling a huge striper on any type of tackle. Muscles will strain and hearts will pound, but one will not soon forget the electrifying adventure of landing one of these linesided silver bullets!