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Lake Lanier Fishing Report: Latest weather fronts affecting fishing in first weeks of spring
Lake Lanier
Lake Lanier as seen from the air in July 2017. - photo by Nick Bowman

Lake Lanier’s water level is almost at full pool and is at 1,070.75 or .25 feet below the normal full pool of 1,071. Lake surface temperatures are in the low to mid-50s. The main lake and creeks mouths are clear to stained. The creeks, pockets and rivers are everywhere from slightly stained to very stained. 

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

Bass fishing remains very good during stable weather, but the off-and-on cold fronts can greatly affect the action. The best bite — at least in my Nitro Bass Boat — has been occurring on warmer, sunny days. When the winds blow and the weather cools, we have had to work a lot harder to catch them.

It is still typical spring fishing on our local pond. Pick your favorite methods to start with, then switch up techniques until you dial in which works best. For me, that means skipping docks with a jig, shaky head or whacky rig. I use a 6-foot, 6-inch long medium heavy Kissel Krafts custom spinning rod with and Shimano spinning reel spooled with 6 to 8-pound Sunline Sniper Fluorocarbon Line. Skipping lures takes some practice but it pays off with tremendous dividends.

My go-to lure for skipping recently has been a 1/16th-ounce Gamakatsu G-Finesse Whacky Jig Head rigged with a Big Bites Whacky Stick. This set up is easy to skip. Just use a smooth roll cast close to the water’s surface and don’t impart too much power. Less is more when skipping. Most of your bites will occur as the worm falls slowly. These bites are usually very light. More times than not you will not feel anything but you will just see your line move off. Don’t set the hook but instead just start reeling and the fish will usually hook itself. 

Spotted bass tend to suspend under dock floats because the water around them will be slightly warmer than the surrounding area. These floats also provide an ambush point for bass to attack prey. As you approach a dock, make a cast out in front of it with a SPRO McStick or shallow diving Little John Square Bill before moving in closer to skip a soft plastic lure. Don’t ignore the areas between docks as these tend to receive less pressure. These “tween” areas often contain cover like rocks, brush and stumps that cannot be seen.

Power fishing with spinner baits and crank baits around rocky main lake humps and points has been scoring the bigger fish. Power fishing may be the better choice during cloudy weather fronts. Cloudy weather seems to pull bass away from docks and cover. The fish will roam around a lot more during cloudy weather than they will on sunny days.

Striper fishing is good and fishing seems to be best early and later in the day. We are starting to see more fish moving into the creeks and rivers. There are still plenty of fish on main lake, but it’s worth exploring new areas this week. Pay close attention to the birds and your electronics.

You can start your day looking for fish and birds before setting out live bait, or you can just start trolling an umbrella rig around. Remember that you must first find where the fish are located before you can catch them. Diving gulls and feeding loons are the best indicators that you have found the right areas, When the birds stop feeding then we must rely on our electronics. When my Humminbird graph’s screen lights up with arcs and lines from the surface on down to 30 feet, there is little doubt of what it is showing me. 

The umbrella rigs have produced but flat and down lined medium sized herring, trout and shiners are the best produces for us. You should fish as many lines as you can manage. For some anglers that may just be one or two flat lines behind the boat. I like to use two down lines set out from the bow and two flat lines behind the back. This keeps your deep lines out away from your flat lines. Some very experienced anglers can fish up to eight lines with a combination or down, flat and planner boards but for this old man that is just too many! Just remember that the more lines that you can fish effectively the better your odds are to get a strike.

Night fishing with Bombers and McSticks has been very good this year and some of the best action can occur on during some of the worst conditions. Stripers do not get cold in 50-degree water so you can bet they are feasting after dark in several areas all over the lake.

Crappie fishing is also very good. These tasty critters are showing up in massive schools and the spawn is probably under way. Most of the fish we are seeing are still very fat and full of eggs. There is no worry in keeping a limit of crappie as reproduction rates remain extremely healthy. I encourage anglers to take home a mess for an awesome fish taco dinner!

Pick your pleasure! Trolling and shooting jigs up under docks as well as fishing minnows below a float are all working well if you are around fish. Target the narrow areas leading into the pockets and flats as well as choke points around bridges in the creeks. Continue to utilize your Side Imaging to scan docks and flats, and if you do not see a big school of crappie then move on to a more productive looking area.

Trout fishing is OK and it will only get better as early spring rolls in. The Department of Natural Resources continues to stock a lot of trout. Clear water fishing is always best. When the Spring rains or high-water generation periods occur, it may be best to choose an easier quarry.

Fly fishing with wet flies has been working best, but when the weather warms keep an eye out for afternoon hatches and the trout that will rise to eat them. A small Adams or Elk Hair Caddis are good choices during warmer weather in early spring.

Live bait (on permitted water), in line spinners and small minnow imitators are all working well this week.

Bank fishing: Now is a great time to go bass fishing from the banks of your favorite lake. The bass are showing up in the shallows, both on Lake Lanier and your local smaller lakes and ponds.

It’s hard to beat a Texas Rig for bank fishing. This “old school” method gets used less and less each year so the bass are probably growing more unaccustomed to seeing it. Rig a 1/8th to ¼-ounce bullet sinker ahead of an Offset Shank Gamakatsu Worm Hook. Thread a curly tail worm or lizard onto the hook and make sure that it is straight. You will want your lure to scoot along the bottom. 

Use a sensitive, medium heavy to heavy action rod with 10 to 14-pound fluorocarbon lines so that you can feel what your worm is doing. Strikes usually feel a lot like a bream pecking at a worm — almost like a tap, tap. Fish don’t have hands so when you feel this, set the hook!

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!