Bulldog Division Kicks off at Lake Lanier - Major League Fishing
Bulldog Division Kicks off at Lake Lanier
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Bulldog Division Kicks off at Lake Lanier

The season starts at the hottest spotted bass lake around
Image for Bulldog Division Kicks off at Lake Lanier
Rob Jordan Photo by Andy Hagedon. Angler: Rob Jordan.
January 14, 2020 • Jody White • Phoenix Bass Fishing League

The Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine’s popular Bulldog Division kicks off its 2020 season on Saturday, Feb. 1, at Lake Lanier in Gainesville, Ga.

Perhaps the hottest spotted bass lake in the East, Lanier should be rocking for the Bulldog Division opener. With lots of plump wintertime spotted bass coming to the scale, along with some largemouths, it would be no surprise to see a winning weight in excess of 20 pounds.  

 

Tournament details

Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine Choo Choo Division

Lake Lanier

Gainesville, Ga.

Feb. 1, 2020

Hosted by the Gainesville Convention & Visitors Bureau

 

Brandon McMillan

How the lake sets up

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. Though the lake has plenty of largemouths in it, the spotted bass population has come on extremely strong in recent years, with 20-pound bags of spots becoming the norm in team tournaments on the lake.

Filled with deep timber, docks and plenty of points and shoals, Lanier has a lot to offer bass anglers. On the forage side of things, there are plenty of bluegills and crayfish, but the main targets are threadfin shad and blueback herring. The herring, in particular, can be key to track, and it’s not at all uncommon to catch fish on Lanier in 40 or more feet of water.

 

Jason Johnson

What to expect

Pro Rob Jordan guides on Lanier and keeps pretty close tabs on it. According to him, the fishing should be excellent, but not quite by the book for wintertime.

“It has been an extremely mild winter. Anything can change the next few weeks, but all the fish aren’t congregated on one specific deal,” says Jordan. “They’re scattered out. You have fish that are related to rocky points and humps that never had a reason to leave and go deep.”

Still, Jordan believes that the bulk of the fish have gone to wintertime places, in ditches and the like that are quite deep.

“There are a lot of fish in 20 to 40 feet, give or take. Some may be a little deeper, but that’s where the bulk of the fish are at,” he says. “Your main player is going to be ditch stuff, and other than that it’s rocky points and places like that. I’ve heard some guys are catching them on boat docks pretty well, and that could be a deal, especially if we have a little sun.”

Because it has been a mild winter, and because of recent rains that’ve stained some of the creeks, Jordan figures there’s a good shallow bite as well, and some shallow largemouths will be caught.

Still, it ought to be a spotted bass derby for the most part.

“Largemouths can certainly be a player, but without a doubt, all the tournaments here lately have been won with all spots,” says Jordan. “This winter, 20-plus has been the bar in every single weekend tournament with the best teams on the lake. There have been quite a few big largemouth caught, but it would not surprise me to see it take a 20-pound bag of spots to win the tournament.”

 

Baits and techniques

Assuming you’re targeting spotted bass, Jordan says there’s a whole buffet of baits to choose from.

“Under-spins are your February player. That’s the wheelhouse for it,” says Jordan. “Your jig-worm stuff like Ned rigs with a Z-Man TRD and shaky heads will be a player as well. There are as many spotted bass caught on those techniques as anything. When you’re talking the deep ditch stuff, you always have jigging spoon fish and drop-shot fish. And the last thing is a small swimbait, little a Z-Man MinnowZ, which is deadly on cold-water spotted bass.”

Whatever you end up throwing, be prepared to catch some big spots. Lanier is a pretty special place, and it’s got as many 4- and 5-pound spotted bass as anywhere in the country right now.