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Lake Lanier Fishing Report: Head out in the evening to target hungry fish
Eric Aldrich
Local bass angler Eric Aldrich poses with a fish he caught. - photo by For The Times

Lake Lanier’s water level is currently 1,071.39 which is .39 feet above the normal full pool of 1,071. 

The main lake is mostly clear, but some of the coves and pockets are slightly stained. 

The backs of the lower lake creeks and the upper creeks and rivers are slightly to very stained. 

Lake surface temperatures have risen to around 70 degrees.  

The Chattahoochee River below Buford Dam is clear. 

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

Bass fishing has started to change, so anglers should be willing to adapt. 

The bass are still in all stages of spawning, but I suspect 70 percent of the fish have finished up the reproductive process. 

You may see bass on beds where you are fishing. 

I have witnessed bass bedding on Lanier as early as February and as late as June. 

I have even seen a rare few locked down in the fall: so go figure.

The main lake shallow water bite seems to have switched from a bass-spawning reaction bite to a shad and herring attack bite. 

The cycle continues and the bass that have already spawned are tired, hungry and ready to eat.

If you could only use one lure all day, what type would it be? 

I suspect it would probably be a topwater plug. 

This is the beginning of most angler’s favorite time on Lanier. 

Yes, the topwater bite is on, but only in some select places. 

Don’t fret. 

It will only get better and better over the next few months.

The herring and shad have been spawning on shallow flats, points and especially saddles between islands in certain places. 

You may pull up to a point and see very few fish on your finder and no surface activity. 

Then suddenly, a dozen bass or stripers will start blowing up just out of casting distance. 

Then the school will sound and seemingly disappear as fast as they appeared. 

These fish are rushing herring spawning on shallow sand and clay bottoms. 

Herring can move fast. 

The secret in this scenario is to land your lure in the middle of the action, which can be a challenge. 

We have been throwing a variety of lures to find the secret one, but, it is more about timing and presentation. 

A SPRO Pop 80, Sammy, Jerk Shad, Fluke or Redfin are all good choices. 

If the fish are down, cast a SPRO McStick, Little John MD or spinnerbait and have your topwater rod locked and loaded for any fish that appear on the surface. 

It’s the familiar recipe that will work for several months forward. 

Cast your topwater offerings over the brush/shallows and then move over any brush and work it with a Lanier Baits Fruity Worm in greens, blues or reds. 

I use a 1/8-ounce tungsten skinny drop shot weight on 5-7 pound Sunline Fluorocarbon with a No. 2 Gamakatsu Aberdeen Hook and Fruity Worm tied 12-18 inches above the weight. 

A super sensitive Kissel Krafts Custom Rods medium-action spinning rod allows me to feel if the fish even breath on my worm.

Shallower brush piles from 15-25 feet are starting to load with fish, so it’s time to run and gun a combination of brush and shallow humps, points and islands until you collide with a hungry school of fish.

There are still plenty of bass in the coves, around docks, marinas and shallow creeks or coves that have freshwater inflow. 

Skipping a six-inch Fruity Worm on a Gamakatsu G Finesse Whacky Hook under tree limbs, docks and other cover will provoke bites from shallow bass. 

Small topwater plugs or a Little John 50 crankbait are also good choices off the main lake.

Night fishing has been exceptional. 

I always wonder why more anglers don’t hit the lake after dinner, but that just makes it more peaceful and allows anglers in the know to score some nice stringers. 

Rocky banks in the mouths of the creeks and lighted boat docks are all good places to fish. 

A SPRO Little John DD in Citrus Shad or Black cast shallow and fished over the bottom is hard to beat. 

A black and blue spinner bait or a Blue Herring blade bait will also score some good action.

Striper anglers are not excluded from the awesome topwater action. 

Stripers will explode on herring and shad spawning or bust up schools of baitfish that are hanging out deeper off the points. 

The same lures that catch bass also catch stripers but the Redfin is an awesome choice. 

Pick your favorite surface plug and keep it ready at all times. 

This action actually can get better as the sun gets higher in the sky!

Other methods are also working. 

Trolling umbrella rigs, pulling live bait, running and gunning and casting lures and even fly anglers are all catching fish. 

It may be a good idea to start either trolling a Mack’s Mini Rig or to run and gun areas with good potential to locate active fish. 

If you don’t see them schooling or see them on your Lowrance Electronics, keep on moving until you locate decent activity. 

Once you locate fish, set out flat lines both flat lines behind the boat and on planner boards and keep your boat moving along around 1 MPH. 

Live herring seem to be the best live baits and small to extra large are all producing some hard strikes. 

We are still catching stripers after dark mostly as a biproduct as we target bass. 

A SPRO McStick, Redfin or even a live bait pitched to the dock lights will make things happen. 

Crappie fishing is still good. 

The females have finished the spawn and have pulled out to the brush and docks. 

There are plenty of males and a few females in the coves. 

A minnow under a float is a great way to catch these tasty fish. 

Try to get out early or fish close to sundown for the best action. 

The fish will bite well after dark on the bridges and around lighted boat docks. 

Walleye: Well, you don’t hear about these fish much but Lake Lanier has a healthy population of walleye that seem hard to pattern. 

They are there and they are eating after dark right now in much of the same places we are catching bass. 

The same lures that we cast for bass or stripers will fool the tasty critters. 

If you catch one, invite it for dinner.

Eric Aldrich is an outdoor writer, marketing specialist and bass angler. You can email him at

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