Lake Lanier fishing report: Warm days and mild nights expand your fishing opportunities – Gainesville Times

Water Conditions: With last week’s rains, Lake Lanier’s water
level is up over a foot from last week to 1,073.18 feet or 2.18 feet above full
pool of 1,071. Lake surface temperatures range from the upper 60s to low 70s.

The lake below Browns
Bridge remains clear in the creek mouths and stained from all the pollen and
recent rain inflow in the back of the pockets. The upper lake creeks are
stained in the creek mouths and very stained to muddy in the backs of the
creeks and up in the rivers. Check generation schedules before heading out to
the river below Buford Dam at 770-945-1466.

Bass fishing is strong, and the fish are in all stages of spawning. These bass
have only two things on their minds – eating and mating. Bass that have already
spawned or that are in their pre-spawn mode are eating just about anything, so
lots of different methods will work if you are in the right areas.

There has been a good
top-water bite in the mornings and throughout the day. Smaller plugs like a
Pop-R or a Zara Puppy are great choices in the shallows, both in the pockets
and also the points and humps out on main lake. Bass will strike these lures
either because they are hungry or because they are protecting their nests.
Bedding bass have to ward off the predators that will eat their eggs.

A Zoom Fluke or Big Bites
Jerk Minnow cast to the back of docks and also out over open water points and
humps continues to be a strong pattern. The great thing about fishing these
weightless, soft jerk baits is because they skip really easily. This makes it a
lot easier for an angler to place a lure in front of bass that are using the
docks as cover for ambushing or building nests.

Cast or skip a Gamakatsu
Alien Head rigged with a Lanier Baits Fruity Worm or a Big Bites 5-Inch
Straight Tail Finesse Worm both around docks in the pockets and also around
clay and rocky banks out in the creek mouths and on main lake. A lot of your
strikes will occur on the fall so keep a close eye out for your line. Often, a
bass will hit these worms on the fall then swim away from the area you were
fishing. This is often an indicator that there are more fish in that area. Make
multiple casts to the same spot for some bonus bites.

Crank baits, spinner baits,
Chatter Baits, jerk baits and just about any other technique you have confidence
in will work during spring. The top-water action is just getting rolling, so
look for surface lures to really turn on in the next couple of months.

Stripers fishing is good as long as you can locate the active
schools that are chasing spawning shad and pre-spawn herring in pockets and out
on main lake points and humps. There is a major feed going on early in the
morning, so make sure to have your boat in the water and ready to go by safe

If you can find rip rap banks just off the main lake, then these
areas will hold spawning shad and the stripers and bass that feast on them
before the sun gets over the horizon. The shad are spawning around rocky banks
and docks, and the longer herring will be spawning soon. When this occurs, the
stripers will be feeding aggressively.

My Lowrance Carbon 12 and Carbon 16 make finding the schools of
stripers a whole lot easier than my previous electronics. The images these
units display are essential tools for finding and catching stripers. I can see
the banks that have rock well below the surface. With a well-trained eye, an
angler can also see fish holding structures plus the fish and bait schools that
can be out to the sides of where traditional 2D sonar would miss them. Set your
Structure Scan out 50 feet to each side of the boat when fishing shallow. As
the sun gets up and you move away from the banks, set your Structure Scan out
deeper to locate stripers and baitfish over a wider area in deeper water.

Many of Lake Lanier’s stripers are still going through their false
spawning runs. Stripers are like salmon. Before the CORPS built all the dams,
stripers would leave saltwater to enter fast, cold running fresh water streams
and rivers, lay their eggs, then return to the ocean. The water in the
Chestatee and Chattahoochee Rivers does not provide the proper water current or
temperatures needed for true reproduction. Stripers still go through the
motions, but Lake Lanier’s anglers rely on the Department of Natural Resources
to keep up the population numbers of stripers by stocking these hard-fighting game

After attempting to spawn, the stripers will move to main lake and
secondary points and also the shallower humps in the creek mouths and in the
rivers. The bait fish will all be spawning about the same time the stripers and
bass finish up the reproductive process. This is God’s way of timing things
just right. The predator fish will be worn out and hungry just about the time
the baitfish will be most vulnerable

Start your day around rocky banks where the shad are spawning.
Medium to large store-bought shiners or blue back herring will all produce
bites where shad spawn. Make sure to put one bait out on a planner board and
pull your free lines up shallow close to the bank.

There are also plenty of stripers around shallow points and humps
in the creeks and rivers. Drag a spread of flat lines while casting a top water
plug like a Sammy or Spook for some explosive action. The stripers are really
close to their prime top-water time so keep a top-water plug or a SPRO Buck
Tail to cast to any schooling fish you see.

Crappie fishing has been good to fair, and there is a fair
amount of smaller fish up shallow. Fishing a minnow under a float has still
been a good bet for numbers. The shad are also spawning on rip rap around the
bridges in the backs of the creek and up in the rivers, so you can bet the
crappie will be biting up shallow early in the day.

For your better fishing, target docks in 15 to 25 feet close to
spawning coves. If a dock is located close to a rip rap bank, that is even
better. Shooting small Hal Flies or Marabou Jigs around the productive docks
will produce some bigger crappie right now. Lighted boat docks and bridge
pilings are producing some decent crappie after dark.

Bank fishing: Now is a great time to take a kid or adult fishing. The
weather is great, and a lot of fish are up shallow where bank anglers have easy
access to them. I meet people daily in my job at West Marine that either used
to fish but haven’t gone in years and would like to get back into it or people
who have almost no experience but would like to just try fishing.

I often suggest to people that they purchase a good old fashion
close face spinning outfit like a Shakespeare or Zebco 33 with a pack of hooks
and bobbers, some small inline spinners or small casting lures and a can of
worms or a minnow bucket full of small to medium shiners.

There are too many public parks on Lake Lanier for me to list, but
you can Google Lake Lanier parks and find one within driving distance. You can also
fish your local farm or subdivision pond. When fishing with kids or new anglers,
make sure to have plenty of drinks and snacks, and don’t be afraid to stop
fishing and enjoy the great outdoors. It’s not all about catching. That’s why
we call it fishing!

Bass fishing is great. Book
a trip with me at

Reports are based on
personal experience and permission from a close network of friends. Aldrich
would love to hear from his readers, so please email him at
Remember to take a kid fishing. 


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