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Lake Lanier Fishing Report: Be prepared to catch biting stripers at the surface
Eric Aldrich
Local bass angler Eric Aldrich poses with a fish he caught. - photo by For The Times

The CORP continues to do a great job of holding water levels steady. 

We have stayed within inches of full pool since early January. 

Lake Lanier’s water level is currently at 1,070.73 feet or just .27 foot below the full pool mark of 1,071. 

Lake temperatures fell back into the 50’s with the cold spells we received this past week.  

The main lake and lower-lake creek mouths are clear. 

The backs of the creeks are slightly stained from pollen. 

Look for the water in the backs of the creeks and in the rivers to turn muddy if we receive any hard rains. 

The Chattahoochee River is flowing clear below Buford Dam. 

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

SPRO USA is holding a SPRO Lures-only tournament on April 1 on Lake Lanier. 

The tournament will go out of Laurel Park and the deadline to enter is March 27. 

Go to to register. Hope to see you all there.

Bass: They say if you don’t like the weather in Georgia, just wait an hour and it will change. Spring is upon us so expect the weather conditions to be all over the place. 

We saw water temps rising quickly until this past weeks cold spell knocked them back down into the 50’s. 

The shallow bite was affected, but the bass don’t quit eating based on the weather and many fish are moving up. 

These bass are fat and healthy and feeding heavily in preparation for the spawning season.

Our shallow bite seemed to fizzle a little last week when the weather turned cold, but it has already started to recover. 

You can still catch bass shallow and deep, but it seemed like a lot of the bass are in between in the 10-20 feet zone. 

When the weather and water warms up, you should expect more fish to start moving shallow soon.

A variety of methods have been working. 

We even caught a couple fish on topwater plugs recently, but it’s not yet a strong pattern. 

The most consistent producers have included worms rigged in a variety of ways: shaky heads, Neko Rigs, Ned Rigs or whacky style. 

Anglers can also do well on more traditional-worm presentations like a Carolina or Texas Rig. 

Other moving lures like Jerk Baits, Swim Baits, Crank Baits or spinner baits all have merit right now. 

In spring, the fishing often starts out a little slow in the cold mornings, but the bass fishing often picks up as the sun warms the water during the day. 

Lake Lanier’s spotted and largemouth bass love to sun themselves in the early spring and anglers should watch their electronics and seek out areas where the water temperatures are warmer. 

These bass can be found around boat dock floats or rocky banks because both hold the heat of the sun. 

Knowing this will help some anglers to develop a successful early-spring pattern.

Start out your days fishing the conditions and adjust your styles as needed. 

If it is windy, head out to the creek mouths toward main lake and cast a Georgia Blade Spinner Bait or a SPRO McStick to rocky banks that have wind blowing in. 

Other moving lures will work well. 

Try a SPRO RkCrawler, Underspin or even a Jerk Shad (fluke style bait) in these same locations to coax bites from active fish. 

Cast your lures to the banks and hold on because the strikes can occur any time during your retrieve.

If the weather is sunny and calm, you may do better to start out fishing the ditches leading into shallow spawning coves. 

Try casting the same lures mentioned above or try a small swim baits like a Kietec or Lil” Swimmer rigged on a 1/4-ounce Gamakatsu Darter Jig Head. 

The fish will probably not be as deep as they have in past weeks so target that 10-25 foot zone. 

Keep an eye on your electronics to determine where the bait and bass are located in the water column and adjust accordingly. 

As it approaches noon, it may be time to go shallow around rock and clay banks. 

Cast a Fruity Worm on a Gamakatsu Alien Head or a ½-ounce Georgia Blade Jig with a Green and orange craw trailer. 

If the banks have docks, then that is even better. 

The bass on Lake Lanier will hold in numbers under the floats and gangplanks in the sun during the spring. 

Concentrate on the first or last docks in the pockets, but also pay attention to any docks in between that are close to ditch channel swings.

The bass fishing at night has been very good and you really only need two lures to coax bites: A Georgia Blade Nighttime Spinner Bait or a medium-to-deep diving crank bait in dark or crawfish colors. 

When fishing at night, you will want to get your lures to come in contact with the rock and clay bottom with a slow-and-steady retrieve. 

Reel your lures just fast enough to feel them wobble or thump. 

Most anglers fish the dock lights exclusively, but some lights get a lot of pressure. 

While fish will bite well around the lights, we often catch our best fish on dark rock and clay banks. 

Shoot me an email to if you are interested in learning how to catch bass, crappie or stripers after dark.

Striper fishing overall remains good but anglers did see some slower days during the recent cold fronts. 

The overall size of the fish being caught seemed to improve and the fishing should only get better with the onset of spring. 

I have been blessed to fish Lake Lanier since the 1970’s. 

Some things seem to hold true most of the time. 

Lake Lanier’s striper fishing gets more consistent when the weather is consistent. 

Consistently cold or consistently warm, deep or shallow, it doesn’t seem to matter. 

Spring brings inconsistent weather.

Approaching fronts will often activate fish into eating, but it also causes them to move around more, which means you will have to move with them. 

After a hard front and significant-weather change, the fish seem to move away in between areas and feed less.  

Add into the equation seasonal patterns, like spring which brings fish in shallower. 

Considering all of these factors can help anglers to locate fish.

One recent report stated that they had to deploy down lines during the past week, but overall flat lines, and planer boards were most consistent. 

My buddy Clay even deployed balloons. 

When the stripers are shallow in spring, anglers will often do best fishing shallower running lures or baits. 

These skinny-water fish will be feeding. 

Remember they always seem to look up to eat, but seldom look down unless they are chasing fleeing baitfish from shallower water. 

Knowing the fish should be shallow will give anglers a good start. 

There always seems to be an anomaly, so always keep an open mind and trust your electronics.

We have several schools up shallow recently and these fish are moving around chasing shad and herring. 

Because a lot of the fish are higher up in the water column, anglers should start their days with a loaded rod and reel with a lure attached and ready. 

The last thing any angler wants is to encounter a wolf pack of hungry stripers, thrashing on the surface only for them to disappear while we are digging into a rod locker or even worse tying on a lure.

Anglers are starting to catch more stripers on artificial lures. 

Shallow fish are easier to target with lures. 

You can even do well with fly-fishing with streamers right now. 

My go-to lures this week remain to include a SPRO McStick 110 or 115 or a bunker, chartreuse or white colored SPRO Bucktail. 

Other good lures to try are Bomber Long A’s, smaller-swim bait on A-Rigs or Mini Mack or even try a topwater plug. 

The topwater bite is barely beginning, but will improve as we move on through spring. 

Live bait rigged on flat lines, free lines behind planner boards or balloons (all unweighted) continue to be the most consistent producers. 

I hadn’t considered the balloon rig in quite a while, but Clay’s post reminded me it has its advantages. 

When the fish are shallow, they are often spooky. 

Try rigging a No. 2 Gamakatsu Octopus Hook with a live herring or trout, hooked through the nose on a free line with no weight. 

Feed it out about 10-15 feet, then tie a regular kid’s balloon to your line as a bobber and continue to feed line out behind the boat. 

With a high capacity reel, you can get the balloon rig far away from the boat, which works great when the stripers are spooky. 

Night fishing continues to remain good. 

Bombers, Redfins and McSticks are getting the bites around lighted boat docks, as well as some of the dark banks in the creeks. 

If fishing is slow, try pitching a live herring to the lights and hold on.

Crappie fishing remains very good and it’s a great time for kids and adults to catch a limit of slabs for dinner. 

These fish have spawning on their minds, but they continue to be feeding heavily in schools around the shallower ditches.

There are many experienced crappie anglers on Lake Lanier. 

Some of these ‘sticks’ seem to catch crappie all year. 

They locate fish with side-imaging or forward-scanning technologies and will rarely stop and fish, until they positively locate fish on their units. 

Once the fish are located, these talented anglers shoot tiny-crappie jigs on very light line into the tightest areas imaginable. 

I know one angler who can consistently hit a quarter at 25 feet. 

What is even more amazing is after he lands on target, he can get his jig to skip several feet further under a dock. 

The crappie can’t hide from these proficient anglers.  

The good news for the rest of us is these tasty fish are pretty shallow and you can catch them from the docks or banks. 

Cast small-crappie jigs or try live crappie minnows hooked, through the lips on a No. 1-size Gamakatsu Aberdeen style hook.  

Attach a bobber two or three feet above your bait and cast it to docks, laydowns or rocky rip-rap banks around the bridges. 

If the fish are preset, they will usually bite. 

Move down the bank or cast to the others side of the dock if you don’t get a bite within 15 minutes.

You can email Eric Aldrich at with comments or questions.

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