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Lake Lanier fishing report: How algae bloom is affecting bass and striper fishing
Eric Aldrich
Local bass angler Eric Aldrich poses with a fish he caught. - photo by For The Times

For the first time since October 2018 Lake Lanier’s water level has fallen slightly below full pool at 1070.95 or .05 feet above the normal full pool of 1071. Lake surface temperatures are in the mid 80s. There has been a significant algae bloom that has the whole lake slightly stained to almost pea green in some areas. 

The Chattahoochee River below Buford Dam is clear. Check generation schedules before heading out to the river at 770-945-1466.

Bass fishing rates are fair to very good. This year we are dealing with an algae bloom that has affected the normal top water action that bass anglers live for. My theory is that this greenish water makes it harder for bass to see lures on the surface. The good news is most of the bass we are catching are relatively shallow from 0-15 feet deep.

I have been concentrating on bottom bumping lures like shaky heads, jigs and other relatively new techniques like the Ned Rig. The bass we are catching have been spitting up crawfish so use lures with a greenish blue color with orange high lights. I have mixed red and yellow JJ’s Magic to make our lures match the colors of these small crustaceans. We have been catching 10 to 20 bass in a half day trip. 

While I have been concentrating on bottom lures, other techniques also produce some good bites. The top water bite early in the day has been effective from before sunrise to around 8 or 9 a.m. The top water action has been good early because the bass are shallow feeding before the sun reaches the horizon. After the sun rises, the bass move a little deeper. The water color camouflages the lures so that the bass can’t see them. I expect when the water clears up, we will resume our normal top water action all day long.

Other lures are worth trying. A Keitech, Big Bites Suicide Shad or Lanier Baits Swimbait have been producing well all day long. Rig these lures on a 1/8 to 1/4 ounce jig head and swim them over points and humps with brush. Spinner Baits or a SPRO RkCrawler are also good choices in the same areas.

We also have been catching some good largemouth bass in the backs of the creeks. The jig or a RkCrawler have been great choices for fooling these big-headed bass. 

The night fishing has been very good. This is a great time to book a trip as most people can’t fish during the day due to the fact that most people work during the week. 

Large black spinner baits, A SPRO RkCrawler or Little John DD will work well in the mouths of the creeks and into the pockets.

Striper fishing has rated from fair to great. Anglers that are unwilling to move around may not enjoy catching these fish in comparison to ones who enjoy searching out these pelagic fish. 

There are plenty of hungry stripers available in the right areas. Utilize your Lowrance Electronics to find the stripers in the creek mouths in the main lake.

The stripers are still relatively shallow from 15 to 30-feet deep. That being said, they may be located in water much deeper. The secret is to keep moving until you mark bait and stripers on your Lowrance Electronics. Searching for fish is often a chore, but with Structure Scan, you can scan a 400 feet wide area to view fish. 

Start your days with a bait well full of herring. Try pulling a Captain Mack’s Umbrella Rig while keeping an eye on your electronics. This is a great way to cover water to find the active fish. Some anglers have been pulling these rigs all day long. 

Often an umbrella rig can out produce live bait if presented properly. Run your boat at 2.5 miles an hour and use a rig that runs about 15 feet deep. Troll over open water over the timber and hit the humps and points to catch active feeders.

Once you locate a school of fish, then it’s time to deploy your flat and down lines. The down lines seem to be producing best. Drop baits just above the depth that you are marking fish. That depth is usually no deeper than 30 feet. 

Remember that stripers are usually looking up; they seldom look down to chase bait below them. Put out a flat line, along with a few down lines. Catching can be fast and furious when you are on an active school.

Keep a top water plug or a SPRO Bucktail ready to cast to any surfacing fish. 

As mentioned in my bass report above, the water color is probably affecting the top water bite for stripers. That being said, predator fish, like stripers and bass, use the surface to trap bait, so schooling fish might continue on the surface for the time being.

Crappie fishing has been slow for shallow water anglers, but the accomplished crappie anglers have been enjoying good bites early in the day in the deeper waters. Start out casting or shooting small jigs under docks with brush from 15 to 30 feet deep.

Cast or shoot a small jig like a Big Bites Baits Crappie Mnnr. Use light line that you can see like a 2- to 6-pound Sunline Siglon F Monofilament. This line has an orange tint that allows anglers to see the slight “tick” in your line that signals a bite.

Some crappie are starting to show up around the bridges after dark. Use store bought crappie minnows or net your own shad or spot tail minnows. Set out your floating lights or use a Hydro Glow Lights and submerge it at around 5 feet deep. Set out a couple of lines under floats, but expect that the majority of bites to come directly below the lights on a downline.

Bank fishing: Bass fishing from the banks of Lake Lanier has been very good. You can also expect the same great fishing from farm and subdivision ponds. Pick your favorite technique and hit the banks. 

The best lures have been shallow running crank baits, small top water lures and especially worms or jigs. When fishing from the banks, you will often have slow periods between catches. Pay attention to where you get bites. This can greatly increase your odds as you can skip the dead stretches once you unlock where the best action occurs. When you catch a bass, pay attention to where and how you caught it and make the same cast as you may have located a school of feeding fish.

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 readers, so please email him at He is currently booking teaching trips for Lake Lanier’s spotted and largemouth bass, so if interested, email him at the given email above. Remember to take a kid fishing.

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