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Lake Lanier Fishing Report: Lake recreation in full swing for spring
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Water temperatures are around 70 degrees. Lake Lanier’s water level went up a little again and is at 1065.85, which is 5.15 feet below a full pool of 1071. Lake Lanier is clear on main lake and clear to stained in the creeks and coves. The Chattahoochee River below Buford Dam is clear. Check generation schedules before heading out to the river at 770-945-1466.

Bass fishing remains very good and I had some incredible days this past week for both numbers and size of spotted and largemouth bass with McSticks, small crankbaits and jig head worms. The moon phase is prime for the spawn. I have been reminded recently that we anglers who fish three or more times a week often forget how much that time on the water helps us. It can be much harder for anglers who only get out a few times a year to jump right on a pattern and start catching fish like crazy. While I have spoken with some people who are catching 20 or more bass a day, there are others who may only get a few bites, or sometimes none, in the same time period.

There are things we anglers can do to quickly or steadily advance our learning curves. The cool thing about fishing is that as long as we can still get out on the water we can continue to learn and get better at any age. Hiring a quality guide is the number one thing I would recommend to someone new to the sport to get a quick jump start, but times are tight and that is a luxury some cannot afford. If so, no worries. Fishing is a sport for people of every means, and you can start out on a very small budget or spend as much as you want.

A good idea for anglers who do not get out as much but want to take advantage of the great bass fishing we have on Lake Lanier is to start out by fishing a smaller area. Not everybody has a 70-mile-per-hour bass boat and is willing to run 30 miles up and down the lake to find a more productive spot. In fact, I feel that some of us who do miss out on some of the most relaxing and productive fishing that we could have if we stayed put and kept fishing instead of running all over the lake. Fishing from the bank, a dock, boat or even a canoe can be very productive. Start out in a creek, a cove or even a single line of docks that have been productive for you in past spring times. If you have limited experience then pick a small creek and start toward the back and work your way down the bank.

Most of the bass are pretty shallow right now. Use a lure you are confident in. Confidence is an anglers’ greatest asset. When someone has confidence in a lure, technique or area, they tend to fish better and catch more fish. A plastic worm on a Texas Rig or jig head is a very effective lure year round on most lakes. Small crankbaits, jerkbaits, topwater plugs or even a smaller Rooster Tail are easy to cast and also very effective bass producers. Pick your first and second favorite, and you should be able to land some bass this week. Live minnows or worms can also be very effective on bass, but invest in some circle hooks if you plan to release your fish which is a very good idea.

Stripers: The guides are reporting some good catching for stripers, and the weather is great, so get out for a little striper fishing this week. Stripers are one of the most sought-after game fish, and Lake Lanier is known as being one of the best freshwater striper fisheries in the world.

I grew up and learned Lake Lanier while fishing for stripers with live bait. I caught one in the early 1980s and the hard pull and large size of these fish lured me into many long hours of dragging gizzard shad, live trout and even regular minnows around in pursuit of these hard-fighting fish. Even catching one good striper can create photos and memories that will last a lifetime, and you have a good chance of catching one if you use fresh line, a good knot, a decent rod and reel secured in a good rod holder and some healthy live bait. Dragging around flat lines (or a line and hook without a sinker) can be very effective for bass and stripers right now. Use larger offerings like trout or bluebacks if you have the right bait tank, or try a dozen large shiners and put them in the live well or a floating minnow bucket set in the lake.

Trolling umbrella rigs, casting Bomber Long As or Redfins and even topwater walking baits are starting to produce some good fish on main lake as some schooling activity is occurring in the mornings and throughout the day. The after-dark bite is still occurring but has slowed a little as water temperatures are getting into the low 70s.

Crappie fishing remains good. Continue to work brush, laydowns and docks with crappie minnows below a float or by trolling or shooting jigs and Micro Spoons in the same areas.

Trout: Now is the time to go trout fishing. The weather is great, and just about all of the trout waters have received recently stocked fish. Second to striper fishing, catching trout below the dam is also dear to my heart. On a good day you can catch and release several limits of trout below Buford Dam while floating on the river or casting from the banks. My number one lure will always be a 1/16- or ¬-ounce silver and white Rooster Tail fished on light line. These same inline spinners work just as well in the Wildlife Management Areas in the mountain streams.

Bank fishing: The bream are starting to show up shallow and there are few fish that are easier to catch. The Rooster Tail or a live earthworm below a bobber on a spinning reel or Zebco 33 should produce some nice pan fish this week from the banks. Using the lightest line possible and small hooks or lures without a swivel will increase your catch rate.

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. Contact him at or visit his website at

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