Lake Lanier’s water is rock steady and at 1071.17 feet, or 0.17 feet above a full pool of 1071. The weather has been mild and nice, and lake temperatures are holding in the mid 70s. Lake Lanier is clear on main lake and clear to stained in the rivers and creeks. The Chattahoochee River is clear below Buford Dam. Check generation schedules before heading out to the river at 770-945-1466.
Bass fishing is decent and there are a bunch of post-spawn bass from midway on back into the coves, especially on docks in the creeks and rivers. Some of these bass have just finished up spawning and are skinny with bloody tails and spawning sores. But no worries — this is normal and part of nature’s design. They will heal quickly. Some have healed up from spawning a month or more ago, and there may also still be a few fish on beds guarding their eggs or newly-hatched fry. These post-spawn bass are hungry and need to recuperate, so they will strike a variety of lures and live bait.
Our best numbers in the daytime are coming by fishing docks with a Big Bites Squirrel Tail Worm on a ¬-ounce Alien Head or other jig head. Fishing over the top of flooded bank growth, shallow brush piles and in shallow flats in the middle of the coves with a Pop R or small-top water plug like a baby Zara Spook, Sammy 85 or a Small Big Bites Cane Thumper or Wayne’s Bait on a Pulse Jig Head is all working well.
For bigger fish, hit the main lake and crank rocky points and humps with rock from 10-20 feet deep with a SPRO Little John MD, Fat Papa 75 or Strike King Deep Diving crankbait. A lot of our bites are coming as we slow roll these lures into the rocky bottom, but we have also gotten some good bites from suspended fish off the bottom. I feel that a good crankbait setup is a must so that you don’t lose fish. I use a parabolic bend Kissel Kraft Custom 6-foot-8 crankbait rod. The parabolic bend along with setting the drag correctly and playing the fish is crucial for landing these above average spotted bass.
Look for main lake topwater action to really get going very soon. It is already happening a little bit already. I use a discontinued SPRO Dawg 125, but a Sammy 100 or 125, Zara Super Spook, Redfin or even soft plastic jerk baits like a Big Bites Jerk Shad or A Zoom Fluke in natural colors or white can be deadly on schooling fish.
Dark-colored crankbaits and large Colorado Blade Spinner baits are producing good fish after dark. Also try a big black jig and pig with a large Pacca Craw in black with rattles. It’s an excellent lure for probing depths for a kicker fish from 10-20 feet around rocky points with brush.
Striper fishing is picking up and if you are struggling right now it can pay to hire a reputable guide, as they can very quickly help shorten your learning process. Most of the guides are reporting much better fishing this past week. The topwater bite still seems to be evading anglers, but you can pick up one or two fish on a topwater plug early in the mornings. Getting on the lake very early seems to be the key for the rare top water activity. I expect this schooling activity to explode any day but I have also said that for the last few weeks.
While the topwater action is not on yet, some of the surface strikes on live baits being pulled on flat lines have been heart-stopping. Seeing an explosion in the water and watching one of your rods bend over while the reel’s drag screams is the kind of excitement that even non-anglers can’t deny is awesome. Pulling flatlines over main lake humps and creek mouths on the points both way up lake and down by the dam has been very productive. Follow the baitfish schools that you can see on your Humminbird Electronics’ standard Down Image Settings and Side Imaging will put you in the right areas.
Some anglers have also done well later in the days on down lined blue backs fished 20-25 feet deep over a 30- to 40-foot bottom just off the sides of points and humps. Most of these down line fish have been 5-15 pounds, but the action has been good. Some boats have also done well on free-lined gizzard shad both up north and down south. Some have fished mid-lake and south every day and caught stripers in every creek they have been in. The stripers are really bunching up well in places.
I have heard from one friend that has caught a couple of 10- to 15-pound fish under his Hydro Glow light in the lower lake creek mouths after dark. He sets out these super bright lights, uses a Humminbird Auto Pilot trolling motor to hold his positions and the light draws in blueback herring and shad. He uses a Sabiki Rig to catch his bait, then he sets his lights in a heavy down line at around 15-20 feet and adjusts the depth based on what his Humminbird 1198c units show.
Crappie fishing is OK for the anglers that are adept at shooting jigs up between the spaces in docks and under pontoon boats. One angler I know says he is catching some good slabs up around some marina docks. Please make sure if you do fish docks you fish clean and are courteous.
Night fishing under lighted docks and under floating docks around the shallower bridge pilings after dark is working well. Fishing with live crappie minnows, small to medium shiners and native-caught spot-tail minnows is working well. The best bite seems to be from 9 p.m. to midnight.
Trout: Nothing much has changed and trout fishing is very good. The old reliable Mepps and Rooster Tail Spinners below the dam or up in the mountain streams is still great go to methods. Fly-fishing with small nymphs and the local black ant pattern are both working very well along with some other dry flies.
Bank Fishing: The bream are biting very well both on Lake Lanier and also in most farm and subdivision ponds. Take a shovel and turn over an area where you dump grass clippings, old leaves or a garden mulch and gather a bunch of small to medium-sized earthworms.
Grab an old reliable spinning reel with four-pound test, a single No. 1 Gamakatsu Worm hook or gold Aberdeen hook and a bobber and take your kids, grandkids or wife/husband to your local subdivision pond, farm lake or Lake Lanier and you should do very well. I let my Nitro and 250 HP Mercury rest and walked to our subdivision pond and caught over 25 bream from a Ú-pound to over a pound in less than 30 minutes.
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.