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Lake Lanier Fishing Report: Bass fishing best in the morning on Memorial Day weekend
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Lake Lanier’s water level is 1,069.44 or 1.56 feet below the normal full pool at 1071. The main lake is clear and stained on the banks from the holiday week boat traffic and slightly stained in the rivers and creeks. The creeks and rivers are stained. Lake surface temperatures are in the mid 70s. The Chattahoochee River below Buford Dam is clear. Check generation schedules before heading out to the river at 770-945-1466. 

Let us honor our heroes that died for our country this Memorial Day weekend! Please be safe out on the water! Always wear your Coast Guard approved life vests when running the main engine and make sure your kids wear them at all times!

The bass fishing has been good early in the morning, but this action will slow down quickly later in the day. We expect the fishing to improve greatly. The fish will recover soon from the post spawn blues as they migrate and school up around main lake brush piles and other deeper structures.

Make sure to get out on the water at day break to take advantage of the early-morning, top-water action. Spotted bass can be found schooling just about anywhere on the lake. That being said, fishing specific locations will increase your odds of finding the early morning schooling action. Long points and humps with both shallow flats and deeper creek and river channels close by are prime areas to target. Most of the prime areas will have man made brush and this just ups your odds.

Cast top-water and subsurface lures in these areas. Top-water plugs like a Sexy Dawg, Gunfish, Spook or Pop R are great choices to entice explosive strikes on the surface. I have had better success casting SPRO McSticks and Big Bite Jerk Shads or flukes to these schooling spots. Keep a top-water plug ready for any schooling action that can occur any time during the day. The day time top-water action will get hot soon.

When the top-water action subsides, switch over to a Strike King Pro Model Jig tipped with a Big Bites Fighting Frog and dip the claws in red JJ’s Magic. This set up looks just like the crawfish that are located on the bottom of Lake Lanier. Work your jigs around off-shore brush, rocky drop offs or get off the beaten path and target largemouth around shallow brush in the backs of the creeks.

We have also been picking off spotted bass from main lake brush piles from 15 to 30 feet deep with a drop shot rigged with a Shakin’ Squirrel or 5-inch finesse worm in watermelon red flake or other natural colors. My Humminbird electronics are key tools for this type of fishing. A lot of the fish will show up on the screen suspended on the outside of the brush. If you see arcs or “spaghetti” drop your rig directly below the transducer. You can actually see the fish follow your drop shot rig and when this happens shake your rig or just feel for pressure then do a subtle reel set to pull the fish away from the brush.

Other methods that deserve mention are deep cranking main lake humps and points. This action has yielded some big spotted bass especially after dark. Shaky heads or jigs skipped up under deeper docks or stair stepped out on deeper drops will also yield fish both day and night.

Striper fishing has been good and we are still catching them on top-water plugs. Cast a Red Fin, double fluke rig or other top-water plugs. Run and gun points and humps near the deeper river and creek channels where the clearer water is located both up and down lake. Make a few casts and keep moving until you locate a good school of fish. The best action has been happening from River Forks all the way down to the dam.

After the morning bite subsides, get out a little deeper into 50 to 70 foot of water and watch your Humminbird Electronics for the large schools of stripers that will suspend over deep flats close to the same areas as mentioned above. You can really utilize Side Imaging to locate the blueback and stripers schools. Set your Side Imaging to the default of 120 feet and idle your boat around until you find fish.

Set out a flat lined blueback herring with a ¼-ounce split shot behind the boat and set out flat lined bluebacks to just above the level where you mark fish on your graph.

Target these same areas and troll umbrella rigs at 25 to 30 feet deep or use a down rigger to troll a big SPRO Buck Tail rigged with a 6-inch Basstrix Swim Bait or better yet, a live blueback herring. Run your boat around 2 miles per hour or at just above idle speed. Trolling is a great way to locate fish then you can stop and set out your live bait lines.

Crappie and bream: The crappie are still biting around deeper brush in the coves and in the creeks from 15 to 25 feet. The same techniques as mentioned last week will work well. Use light 4-pound test Sunline Fluorocarbon line on a high quality medium light spinning outfit. This set up will allow you to feel your 1/16 jig crappie jig to dissect the brush. You can use Side Imaging to locate the best brush piles. Set your Side Imaging to around 30 to 40 feet and move in close to see the brush and fish located within.

Bream are one of the easiest fish to catch on Lake Lanier and in farm and subdivision ponds, so take your kids bream fishing! Use a spin-casting rod and reel like a Zebco 33. Digging up your own worms is half the fun for the kid or you can buy live earth worms or crickets. Rig these live offerings on a small Aberdeen Hook with a light 1/16-ounce split shot set 6 inches above your hook. Place a bobber about two feet above the hook and avoid using snaps or swivels for the best results.

You can locate bream around any trees lying in the water or cast around docks, rocks or any bank cover you find. If all else fails chum up some bream with bread crumbs or crackers and throw your bait in the middle of the frenzy!

The trout are biting very well below Buford Dam. Get out early to avoid the crowds and to get into the best action. Check generation schedules first and, if they are not pulling water, get out early with your kayaks, canoes or float tubes and make the 4-hour float from Buford Dam to Settles Bridge. Pick your favorite lures or flies and you should catch a limit or more fishing this stretch.

Depending on where you go and how far you are capable of hiking, the Wildlife Management Areas in the North Georgia Mountains can offer unpressured fishing even on the holiday weekend. Use shorter rods to work the tight areas in the smaller mountain streams. You will see mountain laurels in bloom and a variety of wild life that will add to your fishing experience!

Bank fishing: This time of year offers some great trout fishing from the banks early in the mornings. Use light spinning tackle with 4 to 6-pound test. All you need is a -ounce Rooster Tail or a small silver and black Rapala Countdown Minnow. Fish them on the ‘Hooch or up in the mountain streams and rivers. Make sure you purchase a trout stamp in addition to your regular fishing license. These reasonable fees pay for stocking fish in your favorite areas!

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. I would love to hear from our readers so please email me at or visit my website at or Remember to take a kid fishing!

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