Water Conditions: Lake Lanier’s water level has risen slightly and is at 1,062.47, or 8.53 feet below the normal full pool of 1,071.
The main lake and creeks mouths are slightly-to-very-stained from pollen. The creeks and rivers are stained-to-very-stained from pollen and rain runoff. Lake surface temperatures are range from the mid-60s to lower-70s. 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 good, but we have had a slow day or two in between the great ones.
The bass are in all stages of spawn this week. We have seen several on beds/nests, but the pollen and water clarity make finding them tough. Seek out the clearest water if you are sight-fishing.
This is a great time of year to fish. Bass are up shallow, and they can be caught on a variety of lures and baits. You can just put down the trolling motor, cast to the banks and catch bass just about anywhere. That being said, high-percentage areas like ditches, drop offs, rock and docks can yield multiple fish.
Spotted bass fish are on main lake rock from 5-to-15-feet deep, while the largemouth bass are very shallow in the pockets in less than 10 feet of water.
If you were allowed to use only one lure during spring, what would it be? You can bet a shaky head with a straight tail worm catches fish both shallow in the pockets and out deeper on main lake.
Use the lightest shaky head that you can get away with. If there is no wind and you are fishing shallow docks, try a -to-1/16th-ounce head with a 4-inch Big Bites Finesse worm. If it’s windy or you are fishing deeper, a 3/16th up to a quarter-ounce head with a longer trick worm may be better.
I use light 5-to-8-pound test Sunline Sniper Fluorocarbon and a sensitive Kissel Krafts Custom Rod so that I can feel the “tap,” or sense the movement, as a fish takes or swims away with the worm.
Moving lures like crankbaits, spinner baits, small top water plugs and swim baits have all yielded bass this past week. An awesome big-fish lure to cast right now is a SPRO BBZ1 6-inch Slow Sink swimbait.
Anglers get confused thinking this lure is too big, but we catch numbers of smaller bass and lunker bass on these swim baits. Cast it up shallow in the spring in the same places you normally catch bass. The second biggest mistake is to swim it too fast. The biggest mistake is not to throw it.
Night fishing with a Little John DD Crankbait or large single Colorado bladed spinner baits are producing some big pre-spawn spotted bass. Fish the rocky banks in the mouths and points in the creeks.
Striper fishing has been hit-or-miss, and the water clarity and surface conditions have made for some tough fishing. The good news is that bigger baits and casting lures will come more into play this week.
Remember that our fresh water stripers still go through a false spawning run. They don’t actually reproduce, but they still move shallow to go through the motions. The creeks and rivers will hold some very large fish in very shallow water in spring.
Pulling baits in the coves and secondary points in the creeks up shallow has been working OK. There is a lot of pollen and some floating debris from last week’s rains that have affected this style of fishing. You may have to clean up your lines or planner board, but the fish are up around the pollen stain-lines closer in to the banks.
The gizzard shad should be a bigger player this week because they are up shallower right now. Plus, it’s easier for stripers to find a larger bait when the water visibility is low.
Try to net or buy native gizzard shad if at all possible, but trout make a great second option. The herring will also move up shallow to spawn soon, so they should also produce well.
Pulling an umbrella rig out in the creeks and rivers close to the pockets is a great way to cover water and also catch stripers.
Use a Captain Mack’s 4 arm rig with half-ounce SPRO Bucktails with Hyper Tails and troll around 2.5 mph. Keep your Redfins, Bombers and McSticks ready to cast to any schooling fish you see.
Crappie fishing is very good but may slow down a little after this past week’s full moon subsides. Most of the crappie should have spawned this past week, but a few will remain a little longer.
This is the time of year that most crappie anglers get started fishing. Grab a bucket with a few dozen crappie minnows, your ultralight fishing rods, bobbers and hooks. Go to the parks around Lake Lanier and fish lake pockets with brush. Crappie are mainly in water shallower than 10 feet this week.
If you have a boat and can troll, then target the shallower pockets. Move in and out of areas with depth changes from 15 to 5 feet. Pull as many rods as you can get away with, but you may need to reduce the numbers to coordinate tight turns up shallow. Move as slow as you can and fish close in around docks and laydowns.
Trout fishing has been good, and the rains have improved the river and creek flows. There are plenty of newly stocked fish, as well as some holdover trout, and fishing should be productive in the right steams and the Chattahoochee River.
Casting line spinners or small minnow imitators are working well. Dry flies are scoring some good catches in the calmer runs.
Live-bait fishing is the way many anglers were introduced to their first trout. There are waters where live bait is illegal to use, but in the waters where it is allowed, it can be an awesome way to get your limit.
Worms, corn, crickets or some of the synthetic baits like Power Nuggets will all catch fish. All you need is a light spinning or spin-casting outfit with the lightest line possible. Four-to-6-pound test is the most popular. Thread your live bait onto a very small Aberdeen style hook, attach a quarter-ounce sinker a foot above your line and cast it out into pools below rapids. Please note you are allowed only one handheld pole per angler on trout waters in Georgia.
Bank Fishing: Bridges are fish attractors. Whether it’s a bridge on Lake Lanier or your favorite creek or river, you can bet fish can be caught in these areas.
Bridges on Lake Lanier that are located in the rivers or the in backs of the creeks are funnel areas where fish and bait congregate. A small minnow, cricket or worm fished under a bobber from the rip-rap banks of a bridge should catch a variety of species of fish, including crappie, brim bass and catfish.
Use a medium-weight spinning or spin-casting rod and reel with 8-to-10-pound test. Use a weighted bobber and upgrade to a slip bobber once you start to dial in your fishing.
You can make rod holders out of PVC pipe, and there should be rocks where you can secure your fishing poles.
One final word on fishing bridges: let’s be good stewards of God’s outdoors. We should always leave the fishing areas that we visit in better shape than we found them. Carry a trash bag for both your trash, as well as picking up any old fishing line, cups or other trash.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or visit his website at aldrichfishing.com or lakelanierfishing.info. Remember to take a kid fishing.