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Lake Lanier Fishing Report: Crappie fishing great, trout fishing tough with water conditions
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Lake Lanier’s water level is above full pool which is rare for the winter. The lake level is 1,071.08 which is .08 above the normal full pool of 1071.

The main lake is clear to slightly stained and the creeks and rivers are stained to very muddy. The lake temperatures are still in the mid 60’s.

The Chattahoochee River below Buford Dam is stained and even muddy after some of the heavy rains. Please check generation schedules before heading out to the river at 770-945-1466. 

Bass fishing has been up and down. The recent inflow of water from the rains, the high water levels and the lake turn over in some areas has the bass scattered out. These conditions can confuse some of the best anglers because the bass are so hard to pattern.

The good news is the bass have been biting. The best advice for anglers is maybe to just put several rods with different lures on the deck and go fishing! 

This week I have encountered bass from 2-40 feet. The dock bite has been surprisingly good. Skip an eighth once to a quarter once Gamakatsu Alien Head rigged with your favorite soft plastic and skip these jig heads around the dark areas of the dock including the gain planks.

We have caught some of our bigger bass in less than ten feet of water.

The bass on the dock have bitten a variety of lures. Keep a jerkbait or small top water plug and cast around lay downs, stumps or even lawn chairs that have blown into the lake due to the high winds. One day we even got on a lawn chair pattern. We laughed out loud as every lawn chair seemed to have a bass nearby!

The deep ditches leading into some of the main lake areas are starting to contain large schools of herring and thread fin shad.

When the bait fish school up like this you can bet the bass are not far behind. Work these bass highways where fish can go from shallow to deep quickly. Use your electronics to find where the bass are located.

If they are relating to the bottom, crawl a jig of soft plastic down deep. Some bass are relating to brush and rocks that are located both on the top sides and bottom of these ditches. If you can crawl your jig through this cover, be ready to set the hook!

Some big bass have been schooled up chasing herring and shad in the creek mouths and main lake.

These bass are very hard to pattern. Anglers that are proficient at power fishing can go out and catch some of the biggest bass on the lake.

This is an all or nothing typed fishing. Rig up several rods with different lures and fuel up your bass boat and be prepared to cover a lot of water.

Tie on SPRO McStick 110, a Rover or Sammy top water plug and a Little John MD or DD Crankbait. At times any of these lures can produce big stringers of bass.

Experiment with different lures and let the bass that bite to determine which lures work best.

Lastly, some of the striper boats have been catching bass over five pounds with herring and trout. The night bite is also very good. Anglers have been catching similar sized bass while casting Bombers and McSticks for stripers after dark.

Striper reports have been all over the board. Weather patterns, water inflow due to recent heavy rains and high water have all played a part in pattern stripers this week. If you ask one boat how fishing was and they nod but say they got skunked. Then the next boat says they are going to go home to put some ointment on their elbows because the caught so many.

Cruising around in my Nitro this week I have found football field sized schools which will eat about any lure you throw in their direction. When this action is on it is about as fun as it gets but you can use some gas trying to locate them.

Stripers can travel long distances so keeping up with the schools is tricky. When we find them I use my favorite baits - a SPRO McStick 110 and a one-once white buck tail. I witnessed other anglers casting Red Fins and Zara Spooks.

Here is a little tip that some anglers know about - Mud lines. The recent rains have produced a significant amount of muddy water.

The shad will be pushed out or drawn by the ‘curtain’ created where the muddy water meets the clearer lake water. Stripers also use this to their advantage. They swim around and ambush any baitfish. They are not too picky. They will eat herring, gizzard shad, threadfin shad or our lures and baits. 

Whether you are fishing in the creeks and rivers or are down lake in clear water your electronics are vital tools that don’t lie. Use your electronics to see clouds of baitfish or better yet, schools of stripers. Use them to determine what depth to target and your Side Imaging.

I say this often but it still amazes me. I look at my 1199 CI HD with a Lake Master chip and I can literally watch a fish eat my lure or scan out to each side. Best video game I own!

Crappie fishing is good for anglers that know the honey holes. Many times I found where some anglers had set out some really cool fish attractors. One nice dock owner told me he had 3 large 5 gallon buckets with rocks and some long bamboo.

He pointed to their location and told me to fish them. I confirmed it on my Humminbird graph and have returned to it several times. He had this cover set out in 25 foot of water and the stalks of the bamboo came up around 15-18 feet. This has been a prime fishing hole this time of year.

Use your graph to find similar areas. These fish are in slightly shallower brush up lake but seem to be deeper brush down in the creeks below Browns Bridge. Take light 2-6 pound test fluorocarbon and medium light or light power rod.

I use my Kissel Krafts Custom Built dropshot rod with a small spinning reel spooled up with some 5-pound Sniper Sunline. This set up with 1/16th to 1/32 crappie jigs and different colored Hal-Flies. This set up allows me to work my jig slowly up and over sunken brush.

When you catch one repeat that same cast and work that area thoroughly because where there is one crappie there are usually many more.

Trout fishing has been a little tough for all the same reasons – Stained to muddy water below Buford Dam and similar situations where the rain has inundates the mountain streams. I always use brighter color inline spinners when the water is high and dingy like a rainbow trout colored Rooster Tail or a Florissant orange colored Panther Martin. That being said my buddy says just the opposite.

He throws dark colored artificials and uses mostly brown and black dry and wet flies. We both catch fish so go with what you know!

Bank fishing: Many older anglers (like me!) have caught large blue catfish while striper or bass fishing but recently I have seen some reports and talk of some huge flathead catfish being caught in our own Lake Lanier!

These flat-headed fish can reach close to 85 pounds in Georgia. I have seen photos of some of Lake Lanier’s flathead that had to be over 50 pounds. These large predators will eat about anything. They will eat any large baitfish or trout.

They also like cut bait and will even strike moving lures. Some anglers even go noodling to catch them.

These fish will burrow up in areas where the current flows so target bridge areas, steep banks where the water is deep within the rivers and creeks. When you hook and land one you need heavy line and tackle that can handle a fish this big.

Striper rods are great for cat fishing. Make a Carolina Rig and hook a live or dead gizzard shad through the lip. You can also get store bought baits. Live trout hooked through the lips and cast into good areas mentioned above are a great choice.

Make sure to secure your rods with store bought or homemade rod holders as you may catch stripers, bass or hopefully a 60-pound flathead!

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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