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Lake Lanier Fishing Report: Bass fishing still good despite rising lake level
Lake Lanier
Lake Lanier as seen from the air in July 2017. - photo by Nick Bowman

Water Conditions:   Lake Lanier’s water level is at 10,76.66 feet, or 5.66 feet over the full pool of 1,071 and rising very close to the record level of 1,077.14 feet recorded in 1964. Water temperatures are in the low 50s. Note that many of the CORPS boat ramps remain closed due to high water conditions.

The main lake and creeks mouths below Browns Bridge are only slightly stained and remain very fishable, even with the high-water conditions. Many of the pockets mid-way back in the creeks are also clear enough to catch good fish. The backs of the creeks and the inflow from the rivers are very stained to muddy. The Chattahoochee River below Buford Dam is clear directly below the dam, but it gets muddy quickly downstream from rain inflow. Check generation schedules before heading out to the river at (770) 945-1466.

Bass fishing has actually been decent, even though the lake is higher than I have seen it my lifetime. With the pool rim reaching almost record levels, there is a whole lot of new shoreline which can be overwhelming to anglers. Bass do move up shallower during high water but anglers will do well to break down areas with steeper banks and ditches (bass highways) that these fish follow and concentrate their efforts there.

Start your day with moving lures like a Rapala DT 10, SPRO RkCrawlers or even a SPRO McRip and target the rocky points and reef markers at around 15 feet or less. A lot of reef markers are roughly 10 to 12 feet tall, so they can really clue you in on where to cast. Other lures like small swim baits, jerk baits or jig head worms can work well in these same areas.

Because they is so much “new” water, anglers may do well to keep on the move and cover water with spinner baits or chatter style lures like Blue Heron Lures make. Target steeper banks and make casts parallel to the drops to keep your lures in the strike zone.

My Lowrance’s traditional 2/D imaging has really saved the day by allowing us to determine if the bass and baitfish are present or if a move is in order. Keep a drop shot rigged with a Big Bites Shakin’ Squirrel or a Lanier Baits Fruity Worm in green colors ready at all time and drop to any arcs or lines you see that indicate fish directly below the boat.

Striper fishing remains hit and miss, but many anglers are catching fish even where the water is stained. Stripers don’t necessarily vacate water just because it’s muddy. Stripers have lateral lines that allow them to “feel” the movement of baitfish. Experiment with larger baitfish in areas with a thick stain and you may be rewarded for your efforts.

That point being said, locating the areas where clearer main lake water meets the cloudier rain inflow may still be your best bet. Mudlines concentrate bait, and stripers use them as underwater “walls” where they can ambush bait. Fish live bait on flat and down lines or pull umbrella rigs in these same areas to catch the stripers that are located around water color transition changes.

I owe credit to Mack Farr for making another great point. A lot of the stain we see on the surface is superficial and only runs a few feet below the surface. There may be layers of stained water that have much clearer water located below them. This creates a low light condition below the surface layer where stripers may be feeding all day long.

The night bite should really pick up down by the Dam soon so get out your Bomber Long A’s and SPRO McSticks but until the lake level falls run slowly if you get after dark.

Crappie fishing is starting to pick up. Trolling multiple poles or “spider rigging” has been a good way to cover water and locate fish. The hardest part of trolling right now will be keeping your lines cleared of pine straw or surface debris. Stagger your rods and run the short ones on the back of the boat and increase the length so that the longest ones are up front. Use light 4 to 6-points test and rig them with small jigs. Run your trolling motor at about 1/2 mph.

The docks are also holding good schools of fish. Target docks with lots of brush planted around them. Docks that have beaver hutches can be a hassle for dock owners, but a boon for crappie anglers. Shoot small crappie jigs up under them or, if you have permission from the dock owners you can downline crappie minnows directly below the docks, just above where the brush is located.

Bank Fishing: Bank anglers have been catching stripers on minnows fished just above the bottom. Use a 1-ounce sinker on your main line tied to a swivel with a 3 to 4-foot leader tied to a #1 Gamakatsu Octopus Hook. Place a medium to large shad hooked through the nose and make a long cast out around to where the water drops off deep.

Set out multiple poles and set them in PVC or commercial rod holders and wait for the action. Stripers are fish that fight extremely hard so make sure to use at least 12-pound test line, and make sure your drag is set to give a little so that you can land the fish that bite.


Eric Aldrich is an outdoor writer, marketing specialist, guide and bass angler. He is currently booking teaching trips for Lake Lanier’s spotted and largemouth bass. Reports are based on personal experience and permission from a close network of friends. He would love to hear from his readers, so please email him at Remember to take a kid fishing.