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Fishing Report: Topwater action gets started
Lake Lanier
Lake Lanier as seen from the air in July 2017. - photo by Nick Bowman

Water Conditions: Lake Lanier’s water level remains just around one foot above normal pool at 1071.97 or .97 feet above our normal full pool of 1071. Surface temperatures are in the mid 60’s.

The main lake and creeks mouths are clear to slightly stained. The backs of the creeks and the water flowing down from the rivers are slightly stained to very stained from pollen and rain inflow. Due to the COVID-19 shutdown boat traffic remains unusually heavy for this time of year as people are ready to get outdoors. The Chattahoochee River below Buford Dam is clear. Check generation schedules before heading out to the river at (770) 945-1466.

Just a note: I have received a fair amount of people asking for specific areas to fish. I report on pattens that should work where all over the lake where the fish are present. Lake Lanier is a large lake but we also have a large readership, which I am grateful for. That being said, if I give out specific locations those areas would be in jeopardy of being overfished. Each major feeder creek and both of the rivers all provide anglers with the same opportunities. Use these reports as a starter, acquire the best electronics and mapping you can afford and go fishing. When you find an awesome honey hole be happy to know I will never give out that specific location.  

Bass: Bass fishing has been very good. We have had several 20 fish or more days, so if you can stay in touch with what the fish are doing you should be able to catch them well right now. There are still spawning fish as well as a few pre-spawn and many post-spawn fish too so your opportunities are wide open.

The one thing that has slowed down our catch rate is when we have been trying to sight fish for big bedding bass. We have seen some monster largemouth, including several over 8 pounds. These fish did not get that large by being easy to catch so targeting them can take as little as a minute to over and hour or two. The politics of bed fishing aside, please photograph and return these fish quickly so they can proceed with their reproductive process. 

Most anglers long for some great topwater action and the bass are starting to get going on this pattern. A good game plan is to start your day early out on main lake points and humps or back in the creeks on secondary points with a topwater plug. The pre-spawn and post-spawn bass have been aggressively striking topwater plugs early in the day. In some areas, this action can happen all day long so sharpen the hooks on your favorite topwater plugs.

There are almost too many techniques to mention but our most productive lures this past week have been working the pockets with a Big Bites Jerk Minnow (a Fluke style bait). We have also had some great success with a Big Bites Stick Bait (Senko Style) or a Lanier Baits Fruity Worm fished whacky style on a Gamakatsu G-Finesse Whacky Rig Worm around shallow docks. 

These same worms will also work well rigged on a traditional shaky head like a Gamakatsu Alien Head. Cast these worms up under the docks or just cast them in between the docks. Most anglers don’t fish between the docks but there are plenty of fish that use those areas to spawn and feed. 

The night bite has been very good using crankbaits and Colorado blade spinnerbaits. Fish the rocky points with a SPRO RkCrawler or Little John DD and allow your lure to dig into the bottom. The same method applies with a big, dark-colored Colorado spinnerbait. We have had some great 4-hour trips fishing this way, Fishing after dark has its challenges and is probably not for beginners. That being said we all have to learn sometime!

Stripers: Striper fishing has also been very good. The fish are finishing up their false spawning runs and are recovering and very hungry. The fish are on several patterns but the majority of the stripers will be located in 30 feet or less where they are easier to catch.

Start your day on secondary points and in the pockets mid-way back in the creek and river pockets and cast a Redfin or Bomber Long A. The stripers will explode on these lures and this type of fishing is as intense as it gets. The topwater bite will end quickly as the sun gets high in the sky. That being said you may encounter schooling fish at any time during the day so keep a topwater plug or SPRO Buck Tail at the ready. 

The fish are in mid-way back in the pockets and also in the rivers. Several patterns have been working well. If you are searching for fish try trolling with a Captain Mack’s Umbrella Rig in the Creeks and Rivers both up and down lake. The stripers have been schooling up in groups so where you catch one there should be several more that will bite in that same area.

Once you locate fish you can continue to troll of deploy flat lines with herring rigged on then. You can fish just a traditional down line or up your action and add some flat lines attached to planner boards. Planner boards will allow you to widen your presentation and cover a lot more water. You can also use shallow planner boards for running up close to the banks while you run deeper lines on your outside planner boards.

The night bite around Hydro Glow Lights have been hit and miss. Your best bet is to approach these lights and to flip live herring into the shadows where the light dispenses. The fish will hang just outside the lights and swim in and out to attack bait that is drawn by the lights. Fly anglers have been doing well casting small Clowser Minnows or Streamers to the lights to entice these wary fish into biting.

Crappie fishing: The crappie are finishing up with the spawn so fishing is good to fair. The fish being caught are smaller than average because they are mostly male fish biting this week. That being said you can still catch a big mess of fish for the dinner table. 

Target the backs of the creeks, the coves midway in the back of the coves, docks and bridges are also holding good amounts of fish. 

Get out your weighted bobbers and fish the docks and riprap shorelines to catch fish. Small store-bought crappie minnows are working well of you can use a cast net to catch the native threadfin shad to use for catching fish too. Hook your baits through the mouth or under the back dorsal fin. Change out baits frequently as your most lively minnows will work best. Casting or shooting crappie jigs are also working very well.

Bank fishing: A variety of fish are up in the shallow water right now. Crappie, brim, bass and other species are all closer to the shore in shallow water. A variety of baits are working well. Get out your weighted bobbers so you can make long casts. Live worms, live minnows, or other baits will work for fishing from the banks.

Eric Aldrich is an outdoor writer and bass angler. Reports are based on personal experience and permission from a close network of friends. I would love to hear from our readers so please email me at

Remember to take a kid fishing!