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Lake Lanier Fishing Report: Cast near rocky banks for best bass bites
Lake Lanier
Lake Lanier as seen from the air in July 2017. - photo by Nick Bowman

Lake Lanier is presently at 1,072, or exactly one foot above the normal full pool of 1,071. Lake surface temperatures remain in the mid-80s.

The main-lake and lower-lake creeks mouths are clear to stained. The upper lake creeks, pockets and the rivers are slightly stained to stained. Check generation schedules before heading out to the river below Buford Dam by calling 770-945-1466.

I am happy to announce my new sponsor, Lowrance Electronics. I will be operating a 16-inch Lowrance Carbon on the helm and a 1-foot Lowrance on the bow. These units are awesome, and they will become essential tools for catching fish.

Bass fishing: Start your days early to get some decent top-water action on main-lake humps and points. Cast a Sammy, Zara Spook or a BBZ1 6-inch floating swim bait across points and humps with brush located from 15 to 30 feet deep.

The top-water action will slow down as the sun rises. Now is the time for my new Lowrance units to shine — they provide high-resolution images of structure and cover. I can easily see my drop shot as it falls, and I can also see the fish that rise to follow it. Sometimes the fish will eat it on the fall, but most of my bites occur as the bait falls to the bottom.

My favorite worms are either a Big Bite Shakin’ Squirrel or a Lanier Baits Fruity Worm. I use a 7-foot, medium-weight Kissel Krafts Custom Spinning Rod. I spool my reel with 7-pound Sniper Fluorocarbon, but I will switch to 16-pound SX1 Braid with a SPRO Power Swivel and a fluorocarbon leader rigged with a No. 1 Aberdeen Style Gamakatsu Hook. 

You can easily see your drop shot, fish, brush, rocks and other cover where the bass live. We still run-and-gun, but I will stay on an area that has fish until they quit biting.

Other methods are also working. Try cranking the new SPRO DD Little John 90. This lure can dive as deep as 24 feet, so you can get it down to where the fish are located. Working a Fish Head Spin through and over the brush piles will also score some good bites. 

Crank Baits cast around rocky banks early and then later past sundown are a good way to produce big bites from Lake Lanier’s spotted and largemouth population.

Native spottail minnows are like candy to spotted bass. See my bank fishing report for more info.

Striper fishing has ranged from fair to good. The fish are biting both down- and up-lake. You can catch stripers from up in the rivers all the way down to the dam. Cover water and pay close attention to your Lowrance electronics.

Stripers are relating to long points, humps and close to the timberlines from 25 to 50 feet over a 30- to 70-foot bottom. You can troll umbrella rigs then deploy down lines when you encounter a school of fish.

Use a long leader-rigged Carolina Rig style with a 14- to 17-pound Sunline Natural Monofilament with a 2-ounce weight and a swivel attached to a 10-foot fluorocarbon leader with a Gamakatsu Octopus Hook. Hook your herring through the nose and change baits frequently. Always drop your older minnows to the bottom and power-reel them through the schools to trigger a reaction bite.

Troll a Captain Mack’s Umbrella Rig on eight to nine colors of lead core line over humps and points in the creek mouths and up in the rivers. 

It is important to get your rig down to that magic level from 25 to 30 feet because this is where the thermocline is presently located. You will often get two or more fish at a time, so make sure to invest in an umbrella rig retrieve — it will pay for itself the first time you get your umbrella rig hung up.

Crappie fishing is slow, and most of these tasty critters are hiding in deep brush and timber. Fish a one-sixteenth-ounce jig deep early in the day and later as the sun sets, but be aware it can be difficult to catch these fish in summertime.

Trout fishing: Few things feel as good as a cool breeze on a hot summer day. The water temperature is around 65 degrees below Buford Dam, and this provides anglers with natural air conditioning.

The trout population has been blessed with a lot of rain, and the creeks and rivers are flowing well. Dry flies, Inline spinners and live worms are all working well early and later in the day. However, the bite gets a lot tougher as the sun rises.

Bank fishing: I have fond memories of catching minnows in the creeks with my brother using a large cloth towel. We would sink the towel and bait fish would swim over it. My brother held two corners and we would lift it quickly to capture these small minnows to use as bait.

Lake Lanier has a heathy population of spottail minnows, and catching the bait can be half the fun. You can chum out grits, cracker or bread crumbs around beach areas and boat ramps to attract the spottails. Use a minnow trap, or better yet, throw a small mesh cast net to catch these native spottails. Use a Bait Saver Minnow Bucket to make sure you keep your bait lively.

These small minnows will catch a variety of species, and the spotted bass can’t resist them. Cast these minnows around steep banks with a slip bobber set from 10 to 15 feet. If the fish are in the area, it won’t take long to get a bite. If you don’t get a bite in 15 minutes, move on to a more productive area.

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 his readers, so please email him at Remember to take a kid fishing.