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Lake Lanier fishing report: Anglers should err on side of caution with elevated water levels
Eric Aldrich
Local bass angler Eric Aldrich poses with a fish he caught. - photo by For The Times

Lake Lanier is almost three feet above full pool. The lake is 1,073.86 or 2.86 feet above the normal full pool of 1,071. Lake surface temperatures are in the upper 70’s to low 80’s. Main lake and lower lake creeks mouths are clear to slightly stained. The upper lake creeks, pockets and rivers are stained to muddy from the rain.

NOTE: The CORPS is running water through Buford Dam 24 hours a day due to the high lake levels. During generation it is unsafe to be on the river or to fish from the bank below Buford Dam. Check generation schedules before heading out to the river by calling 770-945-1466.

Bass fishing is very good and many anglers are hammering the spotted bass on top water plugs, swimbaits like the 4-inch BBZ1 Shads or a Sebile Magic Swimmer. The top water action is strongest before 10 a.m., but it is also happening all day long so keep a surface lure ready at all times.

Start your day casting to shallow points, humps or try fishing in the pockets. I have been casting a Sammy with a Front Runner attached ahead of the lure. The Front Runner looks like a small shad and it works ahead of your top water plug. You will often catch two fish at a time, so use strong Sunline braid as your link between your lures. Front Runners are hard to find but you can use a Gamakatsu Feather Treble Hook as an alternative.

As the sun gets higher in the sky, fish brush piles in 15-to-25 feet of water. You may run and gun until you find active fish. Cast a top water plug or swimbait over the brush, then move up over it and fish them with a drop shot. Utilizing your electronics is an essential along with the bigger screens, CHIRP and Side Scanning make video fishing much more productive. Always mark the brush on your GPS for future visits. 

I use a Kissel Krafts Custom medium weight spinning rod with 7-pound Sunline Sniper Fluorocarbon with a 1/8th to 1/4th once Tungsten Skinny Weight with a #2 Gamakatsu Worm Hook and a Big Bites Shakin’ Squirrel as my worm of choice.

Even after the sun goes down, we continue to catch fish on of SPRO crank baits. Work this deeper-diving lure around rocky points in the creek mouths. Many of these lures run much deeper than the depth you are targeting. The trick is to cast up into shallow water and work the crank baits slow and steady allowing them to make contact and deflect of rocks.

Striper fishing is good this week and the fish have become easier to pattern. When stripers are biting top water plugs, then you may want to stow your flat and down lines and run and gun the points and humps with a Redfin or Chug Bug. The fish are hitting best on top from daylight to around 9:00 a.m.

You can also pull a Captain Mack’s Umbrella rig over shallow points and humps. Pull these rigs at 2.5 miles per hour. Make sure to keep a SPRO Bucktail, McStick or Redfin to cast to any active fish you encounter.

Of course, it’s hard to beat live bait. Herring have been the bait of choice but gizzard shad or jumbo shiners are a good second choice. Pull your baits up towards the surface and be willing to switch to down lines when the stripers move deeper. The fish are mostly in the top-25 feet of the water column early and late but they are starting to move deeper in the middle of the day. Remember that the fish don’t read these reports, so pay close attention to your electronics and position your baits slightly above where you mark fish.

Crappie fishing is good for the hard-core perch jerkers that are adept at fishing small jigs in deeper brush. As with bass anglers marking brush in that 15-to-25 foot zone is the key to catching these tasty fish.

Use your electronics to scan brush and look for the tell tale round returns that show crappie are present. There are two ways to fish this brush. Position your boat away from the brush then work your jigs up and over the branches. You can also position your boat directly over the brush and drop live crappie minnows down into the brush.

Get out your Hydro Glow lights and fish the bridges at dusk. The lights will pull in the bait fish and you will often see larger predator fish hanging out just outside of the lights. Use minnows under slip bobbers and adjust the depth based on where you mark fish. 

Trout fishing: Be aware, the CORPS is releasing water below Buford Dam 24 hours a day. This high water is dangerous, so it would be better to fish up in the mountains this week.

The creeks and rivers in north Georgia are full and mostly clear, which is great for the trout population. These fish have received a lot of food that has washed into the creeks and rivers but the trout catching is still good.

The old reliable Rooster Tail is a great lure to trigger bites. The secret to fishing a Rooster Tail is to just fish it fast enough to keep the blades spinning. A Yo Zuri Pinns Minnow or a small Rapala Count Down minnow are also great choices.

Dry flies are working well in the northern trout waters. I like a black ant pattern, but Nymphs or Streamers are also worth a try.

Bank fishing: Local subdivision and other small ponds are where many anglers got started into the sport of fishing. These smaller waters are great for beginners and pros alike. They tend to hold easy to catch fish which will make fishing more fun.

Start out with a rod and reel you are comfortable with. A Zebco 33 is an excellent choice for kids because they are inexpensive and east to use. Dig up some worms in the back yard. This is often one of the favorite parts of fishing for kids.

Tie on a small Aberdeen style hook. Attach a bobber then string a worm on the hook. This simple set up will catch a variety of species. Bass, bream, crappie and catfish all eat worms.

Eric Aldrich is an outdoor writer, marketing specialist and bass angler. Reports are based on personal experience and permission from a close network of friends. He would love to hear from his readers so please email him at Remember to take a kid fishing! 

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