Water Conditions: Lake Lanier’s water level is up slightly at 1,061.24, or 9.76 feet below the normal full pool of 1,071.
The main lake and creeks mouths are clear-to-stained from pollen. The creeks and rivers are slightly-to-very-stained from pollen and rain runoff. Lake surface temperatures are rising into the upper 50s and lower 60s, with some mid-60s being recorded in the pockets.
The Chattahoochee River below Buford Dam is clear. Check generation schedules before heading out to the river by calling 770-945-1466.
Bass Fishing: Surface temperatures are setting up great for an early spawn. Still, the majority of Lake Lanier’s spotted and largemouth bass are on a prespawn pattern — most of the bass we are catching are fat and full of eggs.
Spotted bass are setting up in a few different patterns. We have caught them on top-water lures, jigs and worms, and mid-depth crank baits this week. Pick your favorite methods and get out on the water.
I don’t know why, but when spring arrives and the pollen is on the water, it’s time to fish shallow. That doesn’t mean you have to start in the back of a creek or pocket, but the fish you catch right now should be set up in water less than 25 feet deep.
A SPRO Little John MD or Bandit 300 fished on 7-pound test Sunline Fluorocarbon will get some good bites around rock and clay points and humps. Make sure to keep your lure in contact with the bottom for your best results.
The secret to fishing this setup is to use a quality medium-weight spinning reel-and-rod combo with light line. Work your crank bait in, over and through rock and clay structure that spotted bass spawn around.
I use a Shimano Sahara with a 7-feet Kissel Kraft Custom rod with 7-pound Sunline and a SPRO Little John MD in Clear Chartreuse.
The same setup as mentioned above with a medium-heavy rod works well for casting and skipping shaky heads. Using a Big Bites Shakin’ Squirrel or regular 4-inch finesse worm in green or sand on a -ounce Alien Head will score numbers of bites around docks and shallow cover in the pockets.
Keep your eyes peeled because we have seen an occasional spawning fish very shallow. Lake levels are holding steady, so the spawn should remain in great shape.
For anglers that prefer to chunk and wind, cast Rapala Shad Raps, Bandit 300s, SPRO Little John MDs or a Mini-Me Spinner Bait in shad colors around main lake points and pockets. Spinner baits, or even a smaller grub-and-jig head combo should work well for both buck bass and some larger bass too.
Striper fishing is good, and the smaller baits continue to trigger the best action.
Usually we see a great herring bite in the pockets, but medium shiners still seem to be the bait of choice. I think this is because the water has not gotten cold enough to kill the shad this winter.
That being said, always purchase a few trout, a dozen herring and/or some gizzard shad to set out for a bigger bite. Sometimes the biggest stripers are loners, and they show up on the slowest days.
A few schooling fish are showing up out in the creek mouth or around secondary points. Throw what you have at these surfacing fish, but I think a SPRO McStick 110 in Clear Chartreuse or a Bomber Long A in silver black back will trigger bites much better than a top-water plug. Other good choices are a Redfin, Spook or SPRO Buck Tail to catch schooling fish.
Pulling live shiners, trout and herring has been producing well if you are in the right areas.
Early in the day, cross over points that have both shallow and deep water close by. The stripers will usually be looking up shallow early in the day and during active feeding times.
Fish your live baits on flat lines and switch over to down lines, or put a small split shot on your flat lines to get your baits down deeper as the sun gets up.
Trolling an umbrella rig around creek and river channel turns that have timber close by can produce some numbers of fish when you find them in the creek mouths during the day. Use a Mack’s Umbrella Rig with jigs or SPRO Bucktails and run your rig around 15 feet deep and 2½-3 mph.
Night fishing for stripers has been hit and miss. We have caught some big spotted bass as well as some smaller stripers on SPRO McSticks and Bomber Long A’s. You may even hook into an occasional 3-to-6-pound walleye after dark, so make sure to take them home for dinner.
Crappie fishing is good. The crappie are moving around shallow brush and docks, and you can catch them if you are in the right area.
Trolling, “Spider Rigging” or “Lake Raking” are all just terms for trolling as many crappie jigs on as many rods as you can manage. We often find concentrations where two or three rods will hook fish at the same time. This alone will get you addicted to trolling.
Stagger your rods from the longest up front to the shortest out back. Use light line, and troll as slowly as possible while moving your boat along the shore line or offshore cover.
Casting a crappie minnow under a bobber is how a lot of people got started fishing, and the time is now. Get a few dozen crappie minnows, and put new 2-to-6-pound test line on your spinning or spin-casting reels.
Use a sharp #1 Gamakatsu Aberdeen hook and a lively crappier minnow hooked through the lips set out a foot or two below your bobber. Cast it out around any laydowns or brush. If you do not get a bite, cast to a different spot and repeat until you find the sweet spot that is holding fish.
Trout Fishing: Pick your favorite way to catch trout and get out to the river or North Georgia Streams.
Adams, Caddis or Mayfly patterns are working everywhere, so fly anglers should do quite well. The occasional rain and afternoon hatches should get the fish to bite all day long.
We used to use two lures for fishing the Chattahoochee River Tail Race: a -ounce Rooster Tail and a #5 Countdown Rapala. The Rooster Tails were cheaper, but the Rapala always seemed to catch the bigger fish. I like silver and black to match the shad that get washed through the spill way.
Bank Fishing: It is time to rediscover your closest waters. Whether you live on Lake Lanier, a subdivision or farm pond or, you have an apartment close to a small stream, it’s that special time to explore the areas closest to our home.
The bass are biting in subdivision and farm ponds, as well as off docks on Lake Lanier. Small streams feeding into the river or lake can hold white bass, crappie, bream and bass. Find your closest fishing hole and get away for an hour one night.
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 his our readers, so please email his at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit his website at aldrichfishing.com or lakelanierfishing.info. Remember to take a kid fishing.