Water Conditions: Lake Lanier’s water level is 1,070.28 feet, or only .72 feet below a full pool of 1,071. Water temperatures are in the low 80s. The main lake is clear and stained around the banks from boat traffic. The creeks and rivers are clear in the mouths to stained in the backs.
The Chattahoochee River is clear below Buford Dam. Check generation schedules at 770-945-1466 before heading out to the river.
Bass: Overall bass fishing is good, but we are starting to see some changes as the water warms up a little. There is still some good topwater action happening throughout the day, but it seems to be best in the mornings and later in the afternoons. Topwater plugs like Pop Rs, Gun Fish and Super Spooks will all work well over shallow main lake humps and points.
These areas have been easiest to target during the week because on weekends most of the best spots down lake seem to have at least one boat on them. This is pretty normal for Lake Lanier when school is out and the crowds are out in force, but it still doesn’t keep anglers, including me, off the lake and there is plenty of water out there for all. Down lake in the creeks and up lake in the rivers the crowds are much lighter and it may be easier to get away by yourself. Plus the fishing is very good for both spotted and largemouth bass even in the shallow water.
As the sun gets higher in the sky, we’re starting to see a good brush pile bite from 15-30 feet deep. A drop shot rig or a shaky head works well in these situations and use your electronics to “video game” fish you see on your screens. Try this neat setup: instead of using a drop shot weight, try a shaky head worm instead. That way you can get bites down in the brush on the shaky head when the fish are buried down in the brush as well as getting bites on the regular drop shot rigged hook when the fish are positioned above the brush. With his setup it is not at all unusual to catch two fish on one drop.
We’ve also been going back in the creeks and hitting some of the steeper rocky banks. A few different presentations will work well in these areas including a regular shaky head worm rigged with a creature bait like a Big Bites Flying Squirrel or a standard jig and pig. Cast these lures up against the bank and stair-step then down the drops or work them vertically, directly below the boat in any brush that shows up on your electronics.
We have also been catching some big fish on deep-diving crank baits during the active feeding periods in the mornings and on later into the day and even after sundown. Working a deep diving crank bait is a very effective way to catch fish both in the low-light hours and after dark on Lake Lanier. My go-to crank bait in these situations is a SPRO Little John DD in Clear Chartreuse color in the day light or Citrus Shad color after dark. I work these deep diving crank baits on 10-12 pound test Sunline Sniper fluorocarbon with a 7 foot, 11 inch Kissel Krafts Custom Crank Bait Rod and Shimano Curado reel.
The combination of the light fluorocarbon line and a long crank bait rod help to get these deep diving crank baits to their maximum depth of 16-20 feet. Try to retrieve your crank bait and keep them as close to the bottom as possible during retrieve, allowing them to deflect off objects like rock or stumps on the bottom as this will often trigger bites.
I’ve also been throwing Alabama Rig a good bit this week. The Alabama Rig allows anglers to work variable depths targeting fish from the surface on down to the bottom and covering the entire water column. This is a killer technique to try while other people are casting topwater plugs, and you will you will often catch multiple fish on one cast. I outfit my Alabama Rigs with lightweight swim bait jig heads equipped with Big Bites Cane Thumper Swim Baits in white, grey or other shad colors. It seems like the Alabama Rig fad has faded away a little bit and because of this, the rig is a very viable plan for anglers trying to catch larger fish. Experiment by fishing different levels in the water column and you just may score the “big one.”
Striper fishing has been good this week and the fish are starting to move a little bit deeper with the warmer surface water temperatures. The down line bite has come a lot more into play.
There’s still some surface activity be to had especially in the mornings, so make sure to keep a standard topwater plug like a Super Spook or Red Fin on deck, but also be ready to switch out with other lures like a SPRO Bucktail or even a BBZ1 or other style swimbait.
Start your mornings out around main lake humps that top out around 20-30 feet deep. Drop a combination of flat lines and down lined herring while keeping a topwater plug at the ready. Watch your Humminbird electronics closely as they will set the theme for the day as the surface activity subsides.
As mentioned last week, you absolutely must keep your herring lively to have success in the summer. If you are just getting started it can pay to hire a guide to help you to learn and become familiar with your live well and fishing rig setups. Most reputable tackle shops will also help you with this process. It takes a lot of investment to set up a successful summer striper rig, so many anglers who only venture out a few times a year just hire guides and there is nothing wrong with that.
Striper anglers are catching really good numbers of stripers and bass on down lined blueback herring. Try to switch things up and try a large gizzard shad or a bream (bream must be caught in rod and reel to be legally used for striper bait) to tempt a bigger striper into biting. Target depths from 20-40 feet or deeper based on where the fish appear on your electronics.
Trolling Umbrella Rigs or even a single large SPRO Buck Tail or swim bait on lead core or a Cannon Downrigger has also been working well recently. Troll at speeds between 2.5 and 3 miles per hour and position your rigs or baits just above where you mark fish on your electronics.
Crappie fishing has been best after dark, but some anglers are doing very well catching crappie by shooting docks or working jigs out over deeper brush. Catching crappie in the warmer months is very doable, you just have to be keen at line watching and also at fishing a little deeper than most late winter and early spring perch jerkers are used to. This is another case where hiring an experienced crappie guide can pay dividends for many years to come.
Fishing lights under the bridges in the creeks has been working well for catching crappie and other species of fish too after dark. Invest in some Hydroglow or at least some floating type lights and set up under the bridges in Six Mile, Four Mile, Wahoo and Little River Bridges just top name a few. On the weekends it pays to get there a little before sundown to secure the best spots. Set out down lines and experiment with the depths until you find where the fish bite best, Also cast crappie jigs to the areas where the edge of the lights meet darker water. You can also set out lights around your own docks and have your own personal fishing area.
Trout: It seems that we are in for another banner trout fishing year again in 2015. After the droughts in past years, 2014 was a welcome come back for trout anglers and this year seems to hold the same promise.
Trout fishing below Buford Dam has been very good for both anglers floating down the river and for bank-bound trout anglers alike. One thing rings true. While you can catch trout all day long, the early anglers can catch their limits quickly.
That being said, there are few places nicer to be on a hot summer day than on the cool water of the Chattahoochee River.
The same great trout fishing rings true on the rivers and streams in North Georgia. Check local regulations for the variable regulations so you can legally enjoy both live bait, artificial and fly fishing in our great trout waters we have in North Georgia.
Bank Fishing: Bream are often the first fish young anglers catch and they can be a lot of fun for kids and adults alike.
Bream can be caught all year long in most North Georgia.
Lakes, rivers, ponds and streams hold bream year round but during the warmer months, like right now, they are the easiest to target. All it takes is a rod, reel, bobber and a worm or cricket and you can find them close to the shore on Lake Lanier or in your local subdivision or farm pond too.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or visit his website at aldrichfishing.com.