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Lake Lanier Fishing Report: Top-water lures working on almost every kind of fish
Eric Aldrich
Local bass angler Eric Aldrich poses with a fish he caught. - photo by For The Times

Lake Lanier remains over full pool. The lake is 1,071.55 feet, or 0.55 feet above the normal full pool of 1,071. Lake surface temperatures are rising into the mid- to upper-70s. 

Main-lake and lower-lake creeks mouths are clear to slightly stained. The upper-lake creeks and pockets are stained and the rivers are stained. 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 very strong. 

You can catch fish this week using many different techniques and lures, but why would you want to when you can catch them on a top-water plug? The strikes from spotted and largemouth bass are ferocious, and the action is going on all day long.

Lake Lanier’s spotted bass are eating herring and shad as they feed and heal from the spawning process. The bass you catch may have bloody tails and scars, but don’t worry — this is normal after the spawn. 

Bass get beat up from the spawning process because the males rub and push against the females to help them release their eggs. The also get bloody tails from fanning silt off their nests.

The best top-water action has been occurring in the creek mouths and secondary points close to main lake. Cast Sammys, poppers, Zara Spooks or your own favorite top-water plugs. Work your lures from the shore out over the points and humps that top out in less than 20 feet deep. When you start shallow and cast out deeper, you increase your odds because you pull the fish in shallow instead of scattering the school out deeper.

Keep a Big Bites Suicide Shad rigged to cast to fish that strike and miss your top-water plugs. Have a secondary follow-up bait ready to catch more fish; other lures like a Fluke, Jerk Shad or SPRO McStick will also work well for missed strikes.

If you prefer a slower pace, you can catch fish on shaky heads, whacky rigs or other types of worms in the pockets, around docks and on secondary points and humps in the creeks and rivers.

Night-fishing has been good, and the bass continue to eat after the sun sets. My sponsor, SPRO, builds some of the best crank baits on the market. A SPRO Little John DD, RkCrawler or Fat Papa in darker colors have been great choices.

Target rocky areas in the creek mouths, then cast your lures shallow and work them slow and steady along the bottom. It’s amazing how well crank baits don’t snag when you learn to retrieve them correctly.

Striper fishing is also very good right now. The same top-water plugs as mentioned above will provoke vicious strikes from these hard-fighting fish. Cast your lures over points and humps around the creek mouths and main lake.

The top-water action is so good that you can almost ditch the live bait and cast top-water plugs all day long. The best action is early and later in the day, but stripers will often school on the surface during active feeding periods throughout the day.

The most productive methods have been pulling herring on flat and down lines or planner boards while casting top-water plugs or bucktails from the bow of your boat.

A Captain Mack’s umbrella rig trolled around these same areas has been producing fish. You will often hook more than one fish while trolling your rigs, so keep an eye out for any surface activity and keep a lure rigged and ready because stripers may appear and sound quickly almost anywhere on the lake.

Crappie fishing has improved and two methods are working best: casting jigs and down lining live crappie minnows to brush piles located in 15 to 25 feet of water. 

Use your Side Imaging to locate brush piles, then mark their location with a waypoint on your electronics.

If you’re fishing jigs, then stay about half a cast away from the brush. Cast you jigs and allow them to sink to the other side of the brush, working them through and over the limbs. You’ll need a quality rod so you can detect the light “ticks” when a crappie strikes your lure. You will get hung up, but this is just part of the process, so make sure you have plenty of jigs.

If you prefer to fish with live bait, position your boat over the brush and attach a light weight with a small Aberdeen hook and a crappie minnow hooked through the back dorsal fin. Allow your minnows to sink slightly above the brush.

Trout fishing is good, and the best action is occurring early in the morning and later in the day toward dusk.

You can pick your favorite methods and catch trout this week. A lot of the fish are newly stocked trout that have never seen a lure. Dry flies, inline spinners, Rapala Count Down Minnows, YoZuri Pinns Minnows and live bait are all producing trout this week.

Bank fishing: As mentioned above, the top-water action is on. 

Fishing from the bank with top-water plugs will produce a mixed bag of stripers and bass. Top-water lures are also an excellent choice for bank anglers because they rarely get snagged.  

Bank anglers have an advantage over boaters — when a school of fish follows your lures, it will often remain shallow so you can catch multiple fish from the same location. Make a few casts then move down the bank until you get a bite.

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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