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Lake Lanier Fishing Report: Lake at full pool means boom or bust for most anglers
Eric Aldrich
Local bass angler Eric Aldrich poses with a fish he caught. - photo by For The Times

Lake Lanier has risen above full pool and is at 1,071.90, or 0.90 feet above the normal full pool of 1,071. Lake surface temperatures have varied from the high-50s on main lake to mid-60s in shallower pockets. 

Main lake and lower lake creeks mouths are slightly to very stained. The upper lake creeks and pockets are very stained to muddy, and the rivers are very stained to muddy from recent rains.

The Chattahoochee River below Buford Dam is clear, though it will get muddy after rain storms. Check generation schedules before heading out to the river by calling 770-945-1466.

Bass fishing: Heavy spring rains are causing lake levels to suddenly rise, and it has been boom or bust for most anglers. 

The bass are still in all stages of the spawning process, and junk-fishing — when you have more than five rods on the deck with a different lure on each one — is the order of the day. With this extra foot or more of water that’s rolling in from recent rains, anglers should try fishing shallow, flooded bank cover. 

When the water level rises quickly, bass and other fish will move shallow to take advantage of the sudden banquet of worms, insects and other critters. In addition to the small feast, bass can also take advantage of minnows and sunfish that will be distracted by this easy feeding frenzy.

Willow trees, small pine seedlings and other weeds in the back of the pockets are prime areas to catch largemouth and spotted bass that are feeding or spawning. Target pockets, docks and small feeder creeks with clearing, stained or less muddy water.

Cast lures that you can work over or through flooded bank cover. You can power-fish down the banks with a Big Bite Baits Buzzing Warmouth or Buzz Bait to entice aggressive bites. 

You can also slow down and cast a white or red trick or floating worm, working these on traditional monofilament. I use 20-pound Sunline Natural Monofilament. Keep your boat away from the banks until you dial into the best depth to target.

There has also been a good bite out on rocky banks and secondary points in the creek mouths just off main lake. Early in the day and later toward dark, and also during major feeding periods or dam generation times, try casting moving lures like a SPRO Aruku Shad or a spinner bait. 

As the sun rises higher, switch over to a shaky head and just cast it up to rocky, steep banks then stair-step them down the drops. I caught some bass on top-water lures this week, so it’s almost top-water time.

Striper fishing: The weather has still affected the striper bite. The anglers I spoke with have been working hard with the same lures and bait presentations, so keep plugging away.

My friend Mack said he has been catching fish by trolling his Umbrella Rigs around points and humps in the creeks. Run your motor at exactly 2 mph and keep your umbrella rigs running at around 10 feet deep. Pulling an umbrella rig will also allow you to locate bigger schools of stripers where you can switch to live bait.

If you prefer to pull live bait, then get out your flat-line rods and buy plenty of medium shiners and blueback herring. Set out a spread of flat lines directly behind your boat and use your planner boards to cover a wide path. Remember that stripers can be very shallow in spring, so set your outside lines shallow to entice these fish into biting.

No matter if you’re trolling U-Rigs or pulling live bait, always keep a lure for casting like a buck tail, SPRO McStick or a Bomber Long A. These lures will catch fish both day and night.

Crappie fishing has been good in some areas and slower in others. The spawn is all but over, and the fish have been moving and eating heavily.

Look for laydowns, docks or flooded cover in the backs of the coves and also in the coves off the creeks and rivers. There are still some smaller, and a few large, fish that will bite minnows shallow. Cast small crappie jigs around these same places.

Shooting docks is probably the best way to catch a good mess of crappie. Cast one-thirty-second-ounce Hal Flies or marabou jigs up under docks in 10 to 25 feet of water. Docks with brush will be best. The crappie will be moving around a lot, so a dock may be good one day and slow the next day.

Trout fishing has been greatly affected by the recent heavy rains. 

That being said, trout waters tend to clear quickly, so as long as the water you’re fishing is not too stained, then you should be OK.

Spin-fishing anything, or casting and retrieving a one-sixteenth-ounce Rooster Tail, will produce bites. If the area you’re fishing allows live bait, then live worms are an excellent choice. The recent rains have washed a lot of worms into the rivers and creeks.

Bank fishing: The carp are shallow, where they’re easy to catch. These big red suckerfish are plowing around in the flooded brush and weeds looking for food and getting ready to spawn.

Get your favorite rod and reel, bait up a small Aberdeen Gold hook with a few kernels of corn on a small split-shot and cast it around any flooded bank cover. Secure your rod well and move if you haven’t had a bite in 15 minutes.

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 esaldrich@yahoo.com. Remember to take a kid fishing.

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