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Lake Lanier Fishing Report: Bass aggressively hitting lures with topwater bite
Eric Aldrich
Local bass angler Eric Aldrich poses with a fish he caught. - photo by For The Times

Lake Lanier’s water level is presently around 1,069.52 or 1.48-feet above the full pool mark of 1,071. 

The Corps is trying to pull the lake down in anticipation of any heavy spring rains that can occur.

Lake temperatures are hovering in the mid-70’s. 

The main lake as well as the lower and upper lake creeks are mostly clear, with some slightly-stained water in the way backs of the creeks and in the upper reaches of the rivers.

The Chattahoochee River is flowing clear below Buford Dam and trout fishing rates very good. 

Check generation schedules before heading out to the river at 770-945-1466.

Bass fishing has rated everywhere from good to excellent. 

The majority of fish are in a pre-spawn pattern, which means they’re hungry, healing and ready to strike your lures aggressively. 

Several patterns are working. 

We are definitely concentrating our efforts on the topwater, main lake brush pile bite.

Start your days with a plan on running and gunning main lake brush piles. 

We have been hitting 20-40 areas and are averaging 15-30 bass in an eight-hour day. 

We don’t set out with a definitive plan or agenda. 

Instead let the fish that bite determine the best way to fish.

We’ve had success with a few different lures. 

The topwater bite is what most anglers are seeking out right now. 

Casting walking baits, like is a SPRO Fat Papa 130, Zara Spook or Sammy have all been working well. 

Our go-to lures have been a Lanier Baits Jerk Shad and white or natural colors. 

Attach a large heavy SPRO swivel ahead of your leader attached to a No. 5 EWG Gamakatsu Hook equipped with a Lanier Baits Jerk Shad. 

Most anglers work these baits with too much action, but all that is needed is to cast them out and real it along the surface at a medium-steady pace. 

Ninety percent of the time, the fish will hook themselves. 

It’s important to not use too heavy of a rod when working the Jerk Shad. 

I use a Kissel Krafts Custom medium-action spinning rod with a high capacity 2500 series spinning reel spoiled with 14-pound Sunline SX2 line as the main line and 15-pound Sunline Natural Monofilament for the leader.

Other lures are worth a try, like a linear baits swimmer or a SPRO McStick 110 in natural or white colors. 

Subsurface lures work well, too, like small swim baits under spins and even white-and-silver rooster tail will all trigger bites from the active fish chasing herring over the brush.

If the fish don’t strike your surface or subsurface lures, then pay attention to your electronics and look for fish that may be down deeper. 

Use a dropshot or Shaky Head equipped with Lanier Baits Fruity worm. 

Drop these down to the fish you see on the screen.

If running-and-gunning is not your style of fishing, no worries. There are plenty of fish still on the docks that will hit a variety of lures, too. 

Our go-to lure has been a Lanier Baits Fruity Worm rigged on a Gamakatsu Alien Head Jig Head. 

I love to skip these little offerings under the docks, but you can also target the areas around the docks and still catch fish. 

The best docks for us have been the first ones leading into the spawning coves close to ditches.

You can also cast a SPRO Little John MD or DD Crank Bait in clear chartreuse to any points or humps. 

Allow these crank baits to get down and deep, allowing them to root around on the bottom. 

When you crank bait deflects off an object on the bottom, it will trigger bites from bass that are actively eating shad or herring. 

The night bass bite continues to be very good. After sundown, it may seem like you have the whole lake for yourself.  

Target the rocky points that lead into the lower-lake creek coves. 

Cast a SPRO RK Crawler or a Little John DD to the banks. 

Crank these lures just fast enough to keep them digging into the bottom.

Striper fishing has been excellent. 

The fish are biting both live baits and artificial lures. 

Anglers can take their pick and go out and have a successful day. 

For us, that means that we will be casting topwater plugs and buck tail jigs all day long. 

I usually only target stripers with artificial lures, which are working very well this time of year. 

Keep a topwater plug or sub-surface lure tied on at all times so that you are ready to cast to any fish that appear on the surface.

The stripers are still chasing herring around sandy saddles between the islands, as well as long points and humps out on the main lake. 

If you encounter fish schooling on the surface within eyesight, then cast a lure to them quickly because the schools will usually appear and disappear quickly. 

Even if you don’t see fish busting bait on top, they can still be schooling under the surface. 

If you see fish on your electronics stick around that area, make fan casts with a topwater plug or a SPRO Buck Tail.

The best producer continues to be fishing with live herring on flat lines. 

At times, this action can be fast and furious with multiple fish biting at the same time. 

Make sure to purchase plenty of bait because some of the guides are running out since the fishing is that good.

Use flat lines behind the boat, as well as on planner boards positioned on the right and left-hand side of your boat. 

If the fish are deeper than 20-feet, deploy a weighted down line to put a live bait on right in front of them.

Night fishing for stripers around the dock lights is still a productive pattern. 

Shut off the big motor well away from the lights and use you trolling motor to get within casting distance. 

Cast to the areas where the light fades away. 

This is where the predator fish like stripers and bass hide. 

After working the outer edges of the lights, move in and make a few casts to where the light is brightest. 

Lures like McSticks, Buck Tails, streamers on a fly rod and even a live herring pitched to the lights will produce bites after dark.

Crappie fishing is still good, but a lot of these fish have pulled out to docks located in 15-30-feet of water. 

If you have side imaging or forward-scanning sonar, it will greatly cut down on your search for these tasty pan fish. 

If not, you may just need to fish docks with planted brush that have been productive in the past.

You can email Eric Aldrich at with comments or questions.

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