February Lake Lanier Bass
with Jim Farmer
Some of the biggest spots in Lake Lanier are already moving to staging areas on rocky points near spawning areas in early February. You can catch a personal best spot right now by fishing crankbaits on these points.
Lanier has developed a well-deserved reputation for producing magnum spots over the past few years. Four and five pounders are weighed in during most tournaments and bigger fish are caught all year long. Right now is one of the best times to catch one over five pounds.
With deep, clear water, standing timber and rocky shorelines, Lanier is perfect habitat for spots. The introduction of blueback herring gave the spots an excellent food source and this big baitfish has made them grow big and fat. All these combined to produce a trophy spot lake.
Jim Farmer lives a few miles from Bald Ridge Creek, has a lake house on that end of the lake and fishes Lanier a lot. He also paints crankbaits and other hard baits with custom colors specifically designed for the spots on Lanier. He guides on the lake, showing fishermen where and how to use his baits to catch big fish.
After retiring from the Navy Jim moved to Lanier and started making planner boards that were very popular with striper and cat fishermen. He fished for stripers a lot but got into bass fishing a few years ago and got hooked on them. He joined the Greater Atlanta Bass Club and fished with them until he started guiding.
Jim also fishes the Bulldog BFL trail statewide and Hammonds and charity tournaments on Lanier. This past December he and his partner won the UGA Fishing Team fund raiser North Georgia Fall Classic on Lanier with 19.6 Pounds and had big fish with a five-pound, twelve ounce spot.
“The biggest spots in the lake move in to spawn earlier than most fishermen realize,” Jim said. There are still a lot of fish deep and you can catch them, but Jim likes to catch big fish shallow. He uses a variety of baits but relies on his crankbaits most of the time.
For February fishing Jim will have a couple of crankbaits that run different depths, a jerkbait, a jig and pig, a shaky head and a spoon ready to cast. The spoon is for catching the deeper fish, but the other baits are all fished on rocky points near spawning areas.
Jim took me out in early January, the week after the first extremely cold week we had, to show me the following ten spots. We caught a few fish, but we were a little too early for them to be really good like they are now.
1. N 34 12.147 – W 84 05.019 – Going into the small creek off Baldridge Creek that has Baldridge Public Use area boat ramp, stop on the rocky point on your right. It is the first one upstream of the point with 6BR marker on it, and is a good example of one of the first places big spots stage.
As soon as the water starts to warm a little in early February, especially after two or three warm sunny days in a row, spots go to points like this one. This one provides a smorgasbord of food for them but they really like crayfish, a high protein food great for pre-spawn feeding.
Start on the upstream side of the point and fish around it to the smaller rocky point on the downstream side going into the cove. Jim says crawfish are active when the water is 50 to 58 degrees and his “Sand Key” color is designed to match their color this time of year. And it has rattles to mimic their sound on the rocks.
The rocks here provide ledges for the fish to hide under and ambush food. Fish around the points slowly, casting your crankbait to a couple of feet of water and bump the rocks out as deep as you can with it. Jim caught a small keeper spot here the day we fished.
2. N 34 11.874 – W 84 04.743 – Going down Baldridge Creek there is a small creek on the downstream side of channel marker 6BR on your left. The downstream point of this creek, across from the marked one, is another good staging area for big spots. It has smaller rocks but they are clean, without the “snot weed” that grows in some places and that the fish don’t like, according to Jim.
There are two points here to fish. Keep your boat out in 16 to 18 feet of water and use your crankbait. Jim uses his 1.5 squarebill or the deeper running Castaway Tackle Goto crankbait that runs eight to ten feet deep. Bump the rocks all around these two points.
Jim fishes his crankbaits on light line to get them down deeper. He says you have to have good line and uses Sunline Shooter fluorocarbon in six or eight-pound test. A smooth drag is important for fighting big spots and he checks his line on almost every cast for nicks from bumping rocks.
Crank the bait down and then work it slowly with rod pulls and twitches to make it rattle and dart. Try to imitate the movement of crayfish. When a fish hits, sweep the rod a little to hook them but don’t set the hook hard with the light line.
3. N 34 12.703 – W 84 03.794 – Go up Young Deer Creek past the small island on your right with 4YD marker on it. Across the creek a point runs way out to a shoal marker and there is construction work on the bank. Stop on the upstream point of the pocket going in downstream of the construction.
This pocket is a good spawning area and spots stage on this first rocky point. The point is not big but has rock and clay that crayfish live in, and shad and herring move across it, too. Fish a crankbait but also try a jerkbait and jig and pig. The jerkbait imitates baitfish while the jig and pig look like bream and crawfish, both good food sources for spots.
4. N 34 13.250 – W 84 03.750 – Going up Young Deer a big island is on the left with 5YD marker on it. On the right is a creek with Young Deer Access ramp in it. AS you go into that small creek, a shoal marker is on your right and a house with a US flag is on the bank. This hump is a long rocky point and it holds fish in February.
Stop on the end of this rock and clay point and fish the upstream side and end of it. The channel swings in on the upstream side and gives the fish quick access to deep water. Jim says here and other places a few warm days pulls spots up shallow, but they drop back after a cold front for a few days.
Bump the rocks with crankbaits and work a jerkbait over them. Also crawl a jig and pig down the drop. Work it slowly and out deeper, especially after a cold front. Even after a cold front bass will still hold here and feed, just a little deeper.
5. N 34 12.074 – W 84 02.319 – Back out on the main lake run up to the long point with Shadburn Ferry ramp on it. The ramp is in a ditch that holds fish all winter. Jim caught four of his five fish in the December UGA tournament here.
Fish the rocky point with the shoal marker on it with all your baits. Also check the ditch. A good winter pattern that started early this year is catching fish out of ditches like this one. Bass will hold in them out to 50 feet deep and you can see them on your electronics.
Early in the morning work the back of the ditch around the ramp with a jerkbait. Bass move to the back to feed shallower then go back out deep as the sun gets bright. Later in the day find the fish down deep and drop a spoon down to them. Jim likes the chrome three quarters ounce War Eagle jigging spoon.
Drop your spoon down to the bottom, pop it up a couple of feet and let it fall back on tight line. Be ready to set the hook as it falls, that is when most of the bites happen. You can often watch your spoon fall and see the fish follow it.
6. N 34 12.251 – W 84 02.434 – An island forms the side of the ditch opposite the ramp. Go around to the other side of it and the rocky point there is a good one to fish, especially later in the month. It is a little further back from the main lake so fish to move to it a little later.
Pick apart this point with all your baits, fishing all the way around it. Bump the rocks with crankbaits and a jig and pig. Jim likes a crawfish colored River Bend Custom Baits jig by Richie Westfelt in three eights to half ounce. His Castaway Tackle jerkbait is a 110-style medium diver that he paints in white or cold steel blue. Try different cadences on each cast until the fish tell you what they want that day.
7. N 34 15.657 – W 83 57.998 – Run up above Browns Bridge and go into the first creek on your left on the downstream side of Chestatee Bay. Islands divide the mouth of this creek from the main bay. Go into this creek that runs parallel to Browns Bridge Road point on the right with a big house on it. The point is on the upstream side of a ditch with a marker in it. This is where Jim caught the five-pound, 12-ounce spot in the UGA tournament and he caught a good keeper spot here the day we fished.
The point Jim calls “Big House Point” drops on both sides, into the ditch and creek channel. Bass spawn in the back of the ditch and stage on the point. Fish around it with all your baits, keeping your boat in about 40 feet of water and casting to the rocks.
8. N 34 16.711 – W 83 57.130 – Go to the north-west side of Chestatee Bay opposite and a little upstream of the islands on the south-east side going back to the Long Hollow ramp. There is a double point on your right with a small pocket between them. There are three small leaning pines grouped together on the downstream point. Start on the downstream side of the downstream point and fish all the way around it.
Start about 100 feet from the point and work around it to the big rocks on the upstream side. Fish stage and feed all along this bank and on the point. Try all your baits but Jim says this is a good shaky head point, with some brush piles and some other wood cover on it.
Jim uses three sixteenths to one quarter ounce Spotsticker Screwball jig head and puts a Mattingly Customs worm by Josh Mattingly on it. He says those worms come in some unique colors that give the heavily pressured Lanier spots a different look. Jim dips all his plastic baits in chartreuse JJs Magic to give them added color and smell that attracts spots.
This point, like the others, get a lot of sun, especially in the afternoon. Jim says that helps warm the water and make the fish more active. Work quickly with moving baits then slowly work the shaky head all around the point, probing for wood and rocks, shaking it as you move it along the bottom.
9. N 34 16.833 – W 83 57.050 – After fishing around the big rocks on the upstream side of the above point go across the cove to the other side where the line of blown down trees up on the bank come toward the water. Fish from that place out and around this point. It is flatter, with white rocks along a clay bank and is a good feeding area.
Fish all your baits, trying both faster moving and slower moving ones. Remember it is important to keep your crankbaits in contact with the bottom, making it dart, bump and rattle.
10. N 34 14.126 – W 84 02.810 – Back down the lake go up Six Mile Creek till you can see the bridge on your right. Keep straight ahead into the small double creek and stop on the point between the two arms of it.
There is riprap around it and a ridge of rocks coming out on the end of it.
Both arms of this creek are good spawning pockets and a lot of big spots stage on the point and feed. There is chunk rock on a clay bottom all around the point and those rocks are what you want to bump with your crankbait, jig and pig and shaky head. Fish all the way around it with all your baits.
All these places are holding fish right now and will get better as the days get longer and the water warms a little. Give them a try with Jim’s baits or fish your favorites. You may catch the spot of a lifetime.
You can follow Jim on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/jfarm44 and see his baits and the spots he catches.
NOTE – not sure this is helping – really don’t get much response if you want to stop running it.
Do you find these Map of the Month articles helpful? If so visit http://fishing-about.com/keys-to-catching-georgia-bass-ebook-series/ – you can get an eBook or CD with an article for each month of the year on Clarks Hill and Lanier.