By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Outdoor fishing report: Top water fishing time is approaching
Placeholder Image

Lake temperatures are in the lower 70s. Lake Lanier is down about a foot and a half at 1069.4. The main-lake water is clear to slightly stained and slightly stained in the creeks and rivers. Check generation schedules before heading out to the river at 770-945-1466.

Bass: The recent chilly weather we had has not affected fishing too much. As we get back into consistently warmer late-spring temperatures look for the fishing to be very good. Most of the fish have spawned and the bass need to replenish and get healthy after the hard work of spawning. While this is a great time to fish, some anglers struggle because the best bite can be offshore. Pay close attention to your maps to find these secret honey holes out in the middle of the lake.

The great news is that topwater time is here. We have had some surface action on SPRO Dawgs, Zara Spooks and Sammy’s, but the fish are setting up for a great warm-weather bite. The smaller plugs seem to get the most bites but the bass will hit the big lures with the more stable weather we will get next week. This is the time that I really work out my 250-horsepower engine. Running and gunning is the phrase we use to describe this pattern. We may hit 20 or more areas in an eight-hour day. The trick to this pattern is to hit as many areas as possible to locate active schools of spotted bass. Once you locate a good school, you can go from zero to hero very quickly. In tournament fishing, you are trying to catch five bass and we often catch that limit of bass in one area.

Swim baits are working very well right now on Lake Lanier. I had the pleasure to fish with West Coast swimbait guru, Bill Siemantel, a couple of weeks ago and I was amazed to see him catch both good quality and good numbers of fish on a six-inch BBZ1 trout that he designed. A six-inch, two-ounce lure may seem big to us, but bluebacks and gizzard shad grow bigger than that and bass eat them frequently.

The secret was in the way he worked this lure. He mostly retrieved it at a slow-and-steady pace, but he would use a jerk or a pause along the way. Siemantel said that the bass usually hit when the lure speed or direction was changing. A lot of bass will chase these swimbaits without actually eating the lure. When this happens you can actually jerk the swimbait hard and make it do a 180-degree turn. If you can make the BBZ1 do this when a bass is following you will usually get an aggressive bite.

Many other methods are working well and we have caught bass on crankbaits, spinnerbaits and plastic worms on a jig head. The striper guides tell me they are catching some very large spotted bas while pulling live bluebacks behind the boat.

Striper fishing is good. The topwater bite should be really good this next week. Casting and retrieving wakebaits has been productive for both stripers and bass. A wakebait is basically a lure that you work slowly on the surface that puts out a v-wake behind the lure. A Red Fin, BBZ1 Floater and other surface lures will work in this situation.

Make sure to keep your lure swimming on the surface for the best results. I often remove or replace some of the lure’s split rings to lighten them up. If your wakebait is working below the surface, try to lighten the load for your best action.

The stripers are eating live bluebacks on both flat and down lines. Start out in the early mornings and pull live bluebacks on a flat line behind the boat while casting topwater plugs to any surfacing fish. As the sun comes up, the stripers will go back down to the 20-to-35-foot range, and these fish will hit down lines better than flat lines. Trolling large bucktails or umbrella rigs can work well this time of year.

Pay close attention to your electronics to find the best areas.

Crappie fishing is ok, and should improve this week.

The crappie are moving away from their spawning bays, back out into the creek channels and under docks with brush. Shooting jigs under docks has been a very consistent method for catching these tasty pan fish. Trolling small Hal Flies and micro spoons around the channel breaks has been working. Use your electronics to find the best areas.

Trout fishing is very good on the Chattahoochee River and in the mountain streams.

Live bait is probably the best bet for adults and kids, but you will need to check local regulations to make sure it is legal to use on the water you are fishing. Live bait includes live earthworms, minnows, corn, salmon eggs and even the new Power Nuggets you can buy in a jar. I feel the best way to fish live bait is on a very small hook on very light line and no weight. This will allow the bait to flow naturally downstream. Sometimes you will have to add weight when there is strong current or when the trout are positioned on the bottom.

While live bait works well, I think there have been more trout caught on a rooster tail than just about any other method. Use a small 1/16- to 1/8-ounce silver and white rooter tail on light 4-6 pound test. Cast the lures around any rapids or let them sink down in the deeper pools. Retrieve your rooster tail with a slow-and-steady pace, just fast enough to keep the blades moving.

Bank fishing: Carp?!? Yes, the carp are biting well on Lake Lanier.
A lot of anglers will joke about the “North Georgia Redfish,” but carp are really fun and easy to catch. Kids will have a great time reeling in these hard-fighting fish.

Take a rod and reel and make sure you have fresh 8- to 10-pound test line. Use small Aberdeen hooks like you use for pan fish and bait them with corn or other carp bait. You can add a small split-shot weight about a foot above your hook to get a better cast.

I also chum about a 1/4 can out over the areas we are targeting. This chum will bring the carp in from long distances because they have a great sense of smell. Make sure to secure your rods and wait for the action to start.

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 or visit

Regional events