UPCOMING EVENT: Costa FLW Series - 2019 - Santee Cooper

FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE

2018 Lake Lanier Preview

2018 Lake Lanier Preview

Lake Lanier

Gainesville, Ga.

March 8-11, 2018

Hosted by Gainesville Convention & Visitors Bureau

 

About the fishery

Sprawling north of Atlanta in the foothills of the Appalachians, Lake Lanier is fed by the Chattahoochee River and the Chestatee River with just under 700 miles of shoreline at full pool. It offers plenty of clear water – though with some dirty water up the rivers – and is comparable to some of the mixed-species lakes in the Carolinas such as Lake Hartwell or Lake Norman. Additionally, Lanier has a lot of standing timber. Though the lake does boast a quality largemouth population, its calling card is hefty spotted bass, and it wouldn’t be a big surprise to see 20 spots win the tournament.

 

Last time

FLW has spent quite a bit of time in the summer on Lanier, but the bulk of the March action has taken place at the BFL level. Most recently, FLW Tour rookie Rob Jordan took home a Bulldog Division win in March of 2015, plopping 19 pounds of jerkbait bass on the scale to win by just 2 ounces. In 2011, Dustin Ray won in early March with a whopping 21-4. Historically, the fishing has been quite good in March, and winning weights are typically near or over the 20-pound mark. 

 

What to expect this time

For sure, some largemouth will be caught, but tournament history suggests spotted bass will account for most of the weight. Though it’s tempting to envision what might happen if there’s a warming trend and an early spawn, Jordan says such a scenario is extremely unlikely. Be that as it may, expect some sort of mix between winter and prespawn patterns to play out. For spotted bass, that might mean anglers are hovering over timber in 50 feet of water. For largemouths, jigs and moving baits in off-color water up the rivers could be more the ticket.

If February is reasonably warm, the fish might be shallower and eager to bite. If the fish are only beginning to break out of the winter chill in March, the fishing could be tough. Lanier doesn’t warm up as quickly as Hartwell does because the rivers that feed it flow down from the mountains, so it takes a little more work to bring on spring. A good warming trend would make for truly stellar fishing, however.

 

Baits and techniques

A real prespawn slugfest on Lanier will likely involve plenty of non-slugfest baits. Think jerkbaits, underspins, shaky heads, drop-shot rigs and jigs. In March, it should be possible to catch fish suspended and on the bottom, and fishing in 25  to 50 feet of water might be the best route for many of the spotted bass anglers. Deep timber will get a lot of attention, but drains and creeks are not to be overlooked either. For largemouths, shallower techniques should rule the day, with jigs, spinnerbaits, crankbaits and the like taking center stage.

 

3 critical factors

1. Winter weather – How the winter shapes up in terms of intensity and duration will impact the quality of the fishing a lot. It might not matter a ton for total weights, but numbers and the ease with which anglers can box 15 pounds of willing spots will go way up if things warm nicely.

2. Kicker largemouths – Spotted bass account for a lot of paychecks on Lanier, but getting a kicker largemouth or two might mean the difference between winning and piling up with everyone else in the standings.

3. The rivers – Both the Chattahoochee and the Chestatee offer good fishing and can be particularly productive in the spring. Jacob Wheeler showed off the river potential with his Forrest Wood Cup win, and though the rivers aren’t the usual path to success, they could be players.

 

Fantasy fishing picks

When spotted bass are on the table, you’ve got to go with Cody Meyer, the universally acknowledged king. Jason Johnson lives on Lanier and runs with Meyer. You can probably count on him to crush it at home. Finally, don’t sell John Cox and Andy Morgan short – there ought to be some largemouths shallow, and if there are they’ll find ‘em. 

 

Tags: article  flw  pre-tournament  2018-03-08-lake-lanier 

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