Lake Allatoona is consistently fishing great this winter, and the best winter yet in my limited years to date here fishing for Stripers and Hybrids on Allatoona. Current lake levels are at around 825 ft. and are dropping a little daily due to constant pulling 24/7 at our Hydropower facility. It almost feels like Spring out here many days and the fish have been cooperative all winter. Water surface temps have been as high at 57 this week in the muddier waters - quite warmer than in weeks past.
Remember, there will always be select days of barometric driven lockjaw but these might have also been among the best days to get ahead of your chores if you "fish by the barometer." Here's a quick guideline for this neck of the woods > if it dips much below 30.40 in. Hg.(30.15 is quite low, i.e.), such as when a cold front is coming and pressure drops after a period of higher pressure and consistently good fishing, it may be a good time to catch up on some of those chores that have taken a backseat to fishing. Spend quality time with your possible non-fishing family members and friends. Sometimes this even includes a day or two after a cold front as the fish are adjusting to the higher pressure return. All of creation is influenced in some way by the atmospheric pressure, but the fish we chase are hyper sensitive compared to you and I.
Fairly consistent areas have been mid-lake from Victoria to Bartow Carver and even stretching south to Coopers Branch / Dam areas. While last year this time the fish had already surged into Iron Hill / Allatoona Pass and south, the water clarity and quality are beginning to dictate that southward surge of the schools. Even by this weekend we may find ourselves fishing further south hunting for the best bite, particularly with the constant generation. We will have some steady winds and cooler temps along with some expected rain tomorrow-Saturday.
Downlines baited with threadfin and small to medium gizzard shad and even trout will likely continue to be the most productive technique through this month. This is chiefly because we can keep the bait right at the targeted depth where we are marking the most activity all while presenting them their natural forage foods. For Allatoona, the Hybrids and Stripers will continue to be concentrated in the 20-30' depth range for the most part during the winter. These are not exclusive depths. When there is steady higher atmospheric pressure, the fish are more comfortable moving and feeding in a wider range of depths, but your electronics will tell the tale. These fish will continue to relate to and move through the main and even secondary channels and ditches. These past 2 weeks, in particular, a lot of the recorded feeding we are witnessing and capitalizing on is happening on the edges of the main channels where the linesides have pushed the bait up to from the main channel for feeding time. These locales have been great for us and a lot of our best catches have come when we time it right, look up on these ledges and the electronics light up and the rods bend mercilessly. Live for these moments. Know they are there and time on the water will tell the tale.
Freelines have been producing well still. Sometimes our freelines are simply baited with a medium shiner on a number 2 or 4 hook on light line complemented by a small 3/0 split shot when trolling at .5 mph. Sometimes these are the only lines getting the bite. Sometimes it's the smaller bait size, sometimes it's the shallower depth presentation, sometimes it is a combination of both. Having the freelines out truly puts us in a better position to hone in on exactly what the fish want.
Side-planers with a bigger bait or two in the spread are a good idea if you can manage it. Sometimes this may be the preferred technique, especially when you are hunting for a larger fish that might be cruising the area and willing to expend some energy to go after a good sized meal.
Trolling the Mini-Mack's (125' out) and full size Umbrella rigs (75-100' out) will have its moments of glory even through this winter. These are fantastic tools to use for scouting and locating fish. Sometimes it is this faster moving school of bait that triggers the bite. While we will continue to troll through an area to see if we can keep he rods bent on artificial presentations as such, sometimes the target area/hotspot is small and much time is spent getting the correct presentation repeat. If this happens and you come equipped with livebait, stopping and dropping on them might be in order. If you have the capacity to keep even one Mini down even while livebait fishing, you might find this gets the bite before the single livebaits. Adjust accordingly.
The crappie bite has been pretty good and is expected to rock and roll for us in the next few weeks. These fish will be staging up in the channels, especially near the mouths of their (my) favorite creeks such as Little River, Sweetwater and Kellog for the North end and the same may be found in similar staging grounds all the way to Allatoona Creek. Trolling for them will continue to be a very effective technique with as many rods as you think you and your partner can manage. The more the merrier as this allows you to experiment with best depths by minnow-tipped jigs with weights ranging from 1/32- 1/8 oz. and a wider color selection to get things started and then adjust the masses to what is most productive.
Let us know if we can help make your next adventure a success. God bless you and good fishing, friends!