STRIPERS ARE PROWLING AT LAKE LANIER

RonSmithStriperThisWkThough the weather has been spring-like lately, the water temperature at Lake Lanier is just cold 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 now!
Unlike largemouth and spotted bass, which are really members of the sunfish family, striped bass and white bass are the only true bass found in Lake Lanier. The striped bass is an eating machine that converts useless shad into highly desirable gamefish pounds.
Extremely good water quality and a great abundance of forage results in a much better growth rate for stripers at Lake Lanier than at other lakes. In addition to the speedy growth rate, striped bass exhibit a fighting strength and stamina which far exceeds that of black bass. Their only negative quality is the lack of aerial acrobatics when hooked, although stripers often leave the water and attack a surface plug from above.
Though topwater lures are fun to use, jigs of different types are often more productive in the colder, winter waters. Favorites include the 1/2 ounce Blakemore Road Runner with bucktail hair, a 1/8 ounce leadhead jig dressed with a 4-inch, white Fluke or curlytailed grub, or a 1/4 or 3/8th ounce Striper Series Swirleybird spinners.
Live bait is also very effective in colder waters for big striped bass, 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. Live bait experts like Cumming guides, Shane Watson and Clay Cunningham, will tell you that angling with live bait often has almost as many variables as fishing with artificial lures. Even these two experts differ on their choices of bait. Shane usually prefers blueback herring or gizzard shad, while Clay tends to use live trout in the colder, winter waters.
Nevertheless, both of these guides agree that the size of the bait can be very important and that none of it works if you’re not around the fish. Locating these big linesided predators can be as easy as discovering their food supply. Always look for baitfish first, and stripers will usually be nearby.
During the past week, the best way to catch big stripers on live bait has been with a flat line. This is simply a #1/0 circle hook tied at the end of the line with a minnow hooked up through the lower jaw and out through the nostril. Feed the line out until the minnow 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 place the rod and reel in a rod holder. The depth of the minnow can easily be controlled with this method by the speed of the drift. Also, for better control of depth and less line twist, insert a barrel swivel about three feet above the hook.
The striper season is in full swing, and those of us who guide for a living have been catching quite a few stripers in excess of twenty pounds in very shallow water, which is an unforgettable happening! In fact, few fishing experiences can match the excitement of  battling a huge striper on fairly light tackle in less than ten feet of water. Muscles will strain and hearts will pound, but one will not soon forget the electrifying adventure of landing one of these linesided silver bullets!

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