By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Lake Lanier Fishing Report: Trout biting in the mountains, rain or shine
Placeholder Image

Lake Lanier’s water level is 1,070.16 or .84 feet above the normal full pool at 1,071.

The main lake is slightly stained down the lake and stained up the lake. There is a lot of pollen on the surface and in the backs of the coves.

The creeks and rivers are slightly stained in the mouths and very stained in the backs. Lake surface temperatures have risen into the high 50’s and low 60’s on the main lake. The creeks are in the low to mid 60’s with some of the pockets in the high 60’s.

The Chattahoochee River below Buford Dam is clear. Check the generation schedules before heading out to the river at 770-945-1466.

Bass: I saw some bass building their nests in the shallow water and in the warmer pockets this week. There are plenty of pre-spawn bass hanging around. The cooler temperatures forecasted for this week may slow down the spawning activity but there will be plenty of bass hanging out in the shallow water.

Skipping or shooting docks with a shaky head and finesse worm or a small jig is a staple for catching bass in spring on Lake Lanier. For anglers who are not great at skipping, here is a tip: take a 1/16-Gamakatsu Wacky Head and hook a Senko or a trick worm through the middle.

Cast this Wacky Rig in between the docks. There are plenty of bass between the docks that receive very little pressure. You may just catch as many (or more) than anglers who only fish the docks.

Another great way to catch fish right now is to cast either shallow-to-medium running crank baits or jerk baits around the docks and other areas that hold bass.

Cast a SPRO McStick 110 up next to the dock floats and either use a jerk and pause or a slow-and-steady retrieve. Cast your jerk bait or crank bait next to the black dock floats. These floats warm quickly in the sun and bass will hang out beneath the floats, enjoying the warmth. Both the McStick and the Little John 50 run 3-to-5 feet deep, which puts them right at the bottom of the floats that these pre-spawn bass are hanging around under.

There are plenty of bass on the main lake. This is one of the few times of year where fishing the banks can be very productive. Rock and clay banks that are in the wind can hold some big pre-spawn bass. Crank Baits, Jerk Baits and even a jig-and-craw trailer are all good choices.

A Bandit 300, No. 7 Shad Rap or a SPRO Fat Papa are great choices for working rock and clay. These lures run 7-9 feet on light fluorocarbon line and if you have a quality rod you can feel them bouncing off the bottom. Reel your lure slow and steady. Once you find a school of fish, you can slow down and dissect the area with the jig-and-craw combo.

Power fishing with a jerk bait out on very windy banks or humps, out in the creek mouths or on main lake, can yield some big spotted bass right now. Work your jerk bait with an aggressive jerk-and-stop retrieve. Long pauses should not be necessary. Experiment with your retrieve. Let the bass tell you what they prefer. A spinner bait or other lures can also yield great results in the wind.

The bass are biting after dark on rocky banks inside the creek mouths. Work a deep-running crank bait with a wide wobble or a large single Colorado Blade and black soft plastic trailer. I like to throw a SPRO Fat Papa 70 in the new Olive Craw color pattern. The main trick to fishing after dark is to make sure your lure stays in contact with the bottom.

Reel your crank bait or spinner bait very slow and steady. You will quickly learn the difference between bumping bottom and getting a bite.

Striper fishing has been hit and miss. The steady warming weather has helped with fishing, but it looks like some more weather will be moving in and that can scatter the fish. That being the case, fishing the incoming fronts can yield some incredible catches.

Finding the fish is key to getting on a great bite. In spring, the stripers that are eating blueback herring will move around a good bit. The stripers that are targeting the threadfin shad will tend to stay put a little longer, but even these fish will move in and out, depending on feeding times and weather patterns.

Because finding fish is the key, it pays to move around. Your electronics and trolling an umbrella rig are great ways to locate the fish. Troll your rigs around at around 2 miles an hour. Keep an eye on your fish finder’s screen. Look for both bait and fish.

I like to set my Humminbird’s fish finder to split screen between Side Imaging and traditional two-dimensional so that I can see what is going on out to the sides of my boat, while also being able to see the tell-tale arcs or lines that indicate fish below the boat.

Bait will show up like clouds on Side Imaging. Fish will look like little white spots of ovals. You will usually see more bait than fish as they are a little harder to capture.

Once you find the fish with your electronics, or get a couple of bites on your umbrella rig, then it may be time to set out your live bait rigs. If the umbrella rig is getting bites, you may choose to continue trolling. The umbrella bite can be awesome in late winter and spring.

The flat line and planner board bite have been working best in the pockets and cuts where the stripers are shallower. If you locate fish in the creek mouths, a downline may work better. Let your electronics show you where the bait and stripers are located in the water column. Set your baits to the same depth, or just slightly shallower.

The night bite has been very good in some areas in the backs of the creeks. You can fish live bait, but casting the Bombers or McSticks has been working very well.

The amount of strikes you get will keep you interested. It always amazes me how a striper can hit a lure with three sets of treble hooks, and not get hooked. A striper will try to kill a bait with its head or tail before eating it. Because of this it is important to keep your plug moving along at a slow-and-steady speed after you get a strike.

It is not uncommon to get three or more strikes before finally hooking up.

Crappie fishing is very good. Now is the time to catch a mess of slabs for the fryer. You can choose your favorite method of fishing and go catching.

Shooting jigs around the shallower docks has been working very well, but it is important to find the productive areas.

There is a lot of fishing pressure, but there are enough docks on Lake Lanier to keep any perch jerker happy. Keep moving until you get a bite. When you get a bite, slow down and work that area thoroughly.

Where there is one crappie, there are probably 100 more in the same area. That is not an exaggeration.

Fishing with minnows under a float has been working very well. I prefer a weighted bobber. It allows an angler to not only make long casts, but it also makes it easier to land accurate casts. Use a standard No. 1 Gamakatsu Aberdeen style hook on light two-pound test Sniper Fluorocarbon.

Two-pound test may seem extremely light, but I have never broken a fish off unless it has gotten down into the brush.

Four-to-6 pound line is also just fine. You should also attach a very small split-shot weight just about eight inches above the hook. Leave about 2-3 feet of line below the bobber. Hook a small crappie minnow through the lips or the back of the dorsal fin. Cast them to any “fishy” areas you see.

Fish your live bait rig around lay downs, submerged brush piles or docks. If you do not get a bite in 10 minutes, then re-cast to another area. If the crappie are around, they will bite pretty quickly. There have also been some fish biting around the bridges, and also around rip-rap sea walls.

Trolling multiple lines from your boat is often referred to as ‘lake raking’ or ‘spider rigging.’ Use multiple rods and troll one or two crappie jigs on light 4-6-pound test. Troll these jigs at around 1 mph or about medium speed on most trolling motors.

There are a lot of details to trolling this way. Check on YouTube or other internet forums to get a bunch of information on how to catch crappie this way. You can easily get everyone a limit using this technique.

Trout Fishing: Hopefully we won’t have to worry about gators below Buford Dam or up in the North Georgia Mountains like the one reported toward Atlanta. Trout fishing has been good and the bite is only going to stay that way for a while.

In spring, the hardest thing to deal with are heavy storm fronts that bring in rain.

That being said. the fish will bite rain or shine. Getting out to the river and streams will be the secret to success.

The DNR is in the process of stocking trout for anglers. Many areas are already stocked, while others are on schedule for the near future. These stocked trout are dumb and hungry, and will attack just about anything that looks like food. It is still a good idea to fish with something that both freshly released trout and holdover fish alike.

Live earth worms are a staple for anglers that fish waters where live bait is permitted. Corn, power nuggets or salmon eggs are all great choices, especially around newly stocked trout. Fish your live bait on light 2-6-pound line. Rig a small Aberdeen style hook 2-3 feet below a 1/4-ounce split shot to hold it steady in current.

Fly fishing has been very productive. Both dry and wet flies are working well. You can also try a double drop rig, which is a dry fly on top and a wet fly on the bottom. There have also been some large insect hatches in the warmer afternoons. Try to match the size and color of any airborne insects in the area you are fishing.

Bank fishing: Here is a sure fire way to catch fish while walking the banks or Lake Lanier. Fish a Rooster Tail on light-spinning gear. I talk about this all the time, but it is because of my love for these little inline spinning lures. I have many memories from my younger years of catching fish on a 1/8-ounce white and sliver Rooster Tail.

Use 4-8 pound monofilament on a spinning rod and reel. Just cast it out and reel it in: it’s that easy. It works on reservoirs, streams, rivers and ponds.

It is also a great lure to develop techniques.

I discovered that when I reeled my Rooster Tail in slowly, I would catch more fish. Just cast it out, close the bait and reel just fast enough so that you feel the resistance of the blades spinning.

I also learned that if I let the lure hit bottom, then start reeling, I increase my catches. I also increased my snags, but that was just part of the deal.

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 our readers so please email him at esaldrich@yahoo.com or visit his website at aldrichfishing.com or lakelanierfishing.info. Remember to take a kid fishing.

Regional events