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Lake Lanier Fishing Report: Spawning crappie can be found in shallow areas
Eric Aldrich
Local bass angler Eric Aldrich poses with a fish he caught. - photo by For The Times

Lake Lanier’s water level remains steady at an almost full pool at 1,070.55, or 0.45 feet below the normal full pool of 1,071. Lake surface temperatures are in the upper-50s with some low- to mid-60s in the pockets. 

The lower main lake and creeks mouths are clear. The creeks, pockets and rivers are everywhere from clear to stained with pollen on the surface. The Chattahoochee River below Buford Dam is clear. Check generation schedules before heading out to the river by calling 770-945-1466.

Bass fishing remains strong, and the fish are biting in the right areas. 

Lake Lanier’s bass population is getting ready to spawn, and there are a few early fish fanning beds up shallow. The majority of bass are still feeding heavily as they get ready for the mating process.

It’s hard to beat a Big Bite Baits 5-inch Finesse Worm on a ⅛-ounce Gamakatsu Alien Head with the tail dipped in JJ’s Magic. I cast or skip these shaky heads with a medium-weight Kissel Kraft Custom road and Shimano Spinning reel with 7-pound Sun Line Sniper Fluorocarbon.

On sunny days, the bass will be under the docks, so skipping a shaky head or whacky rig will entice bites. You can also fish a SPRO McStick around the sides or in the middle of empty docks to trigger the bigger spotted bass and occasional largemouth into biting. On cloudy days, moving lures will work better because the bass will roam around away from the docks.

Spinner baits, swim baits and crank baits are all working around main lake banks with rock. Keep a drop-shot handy to pick up any fish you see below on your electronics. After dark, cast a deep-diving crank bait or Colorado bladed spinner bait around main lake and creek mouth banks with rock.

Striper fishing has been better with this past week’s stable weather. 

The fish are running shallower where they’re easier to catch. Look in the backs of coves early in the day and migrate out deeper as the sun rises.

The same techniques are working, so continue to pull planner boards and flat lines. Stripers can appear on the surface, or you may see them down deeper on your electronics, so keep both a down-line and a lure ready for casting at all times.

The gulls are still inland and, along with the loons, will show you productive areas to try. Remember these birds may be feeding on bluebacks, which will move around quickly. If they’re feeding on shad, the birds and stripers will tend to stay where they are easier to target.

Drag a spread of flat lines and planner boards, and run your outside planners with a shorter leader so you can run tight to the banks. Stripers may be very shallow in spring, and a lot of your bites may occur very shallow. The coves both in the creek mouths and back into the creeks and rivers may hold stripers early in the day. As the sun rises, the stripers may move out deeper, but don’t change your setup or location if you’re getting bites.

The night bite has been good in the backs of the creeks. Cast Bomber Long A’s, SPRO McSticks, Redfins or SPRO Buck Tails to lighted docks in the coves.

Crappie fishing is good, and the fish are in full spawn. 

You can catch them shallow right now on a variety of techniques. Concentrate on the coves, backs of creeks and rivers where you see crappie and bait on your fish-finders. My Humminbird Side Imaging is an awesome tool for locating fish — I can see schools of fish under docks or out away in schools over open water.

Shooting docks or minnows under a float are all working well. The best bite is early in the day and later in the afternoon until dark. Pick your favorite technique and get out on the water.

Trout fishing is very good. The rivers and streams are well-stocked and the Department of Natural Resources continues to load up our trout waters with new, hatchery-raised trout.

These newly stocked fish are suckers for just about any lure or bait that comes in front of them. Live worms, Power Nuggets, salmon eggs or corn are all great choices; just make sure the area you fish allows live bait.

For artificial lures, stick with a Rooster Tail, Mepps, Rapala Count Down or other small lures for trout. 

Fly fishing has been good with both dry and wet flies. Fish pre-emergent, or match the hatch that you see where trout are rising.

Bank fishing: Back when I was younger, there was a trout season. 

On the last weekend in March, anglers would stand elbow-to-elbow below Buford Dam on opening day, and we all caught our limits of eight trout and usually released many more.

Now that it has changed to a year-round fishery, not as many anglers are out competing. Your favorite spot, or at least your second-favorite area, will probably open. Live bait is permitted from Buford Dam down to Highway 20.

Bank anglers can park below the Dam or at the new designated parking lot at Highway 20 and hike upriver to fish live worms or corn on a bottom rig. A one-sixteenth-ounce silver and white Rooster Tail is my go-to lure for fishing on the river.

As long as you’re fishing the Dam race area, it’s a great idea to visit the Buford Dam Trout Hatchery. This hatchery has trout from 1 inch to huge brood trout, so it’s worth it to check it out.

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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