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Lake Lanier Fishing Report: Power-fishing techniques working best with bass
Lake Lanier
Lake Lanier as seen from the air in July 2017. - photo by Nick Bowman

Lake Lanier’s water level remains steady and full at 1,070.67, or 0.33 feet below the normal full pool of 1,071. Lake surface temperatures are in the 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 but will muddy up quickly if we have heavy rains. Check generation schedules before heading out to the river by calling (770)945-1466.

Bass fishing: This weekend the Fishing League Worldwide pros are in town, and you can bet these guys will be catching. 

We have seen plenty of boats, wrapped in sponsor logos and bright colors indicative of professional anglers and the rigs they captain. From every report, these anglers are visiting Lake Lanier at its prime, so look for some heavyweights at weigh-in.

Lake Lanier is fishing big, and with the water at full pool you should be able to find some cooperative fish that will bite your style of fishing. There are plenty of shallow fish in the pockets, along with some deeper fish around main lake points and rocks. 

The better fish seem to be coming on power-fishing methods like jerk baits, crank baits, swim baits or spinner baits. Fish the lures around rock and brush, and try to allow your lures to make contact with the bottom.

For bigger fish, it has been hard to beat crank baits fished around main lake rocky points and humps. Make long casts with a SPRO Little John DD or a Castaway’s Bait 1.5 crank bait and work these lures through the rock and other bottom features to catch some big spotted bass. A slow-and-steady retrieve works best.

There are a lot of fish up shallow around the docks. Find warmer water, which will often be in the sunny coves or pockets on the northwest side shores of the lake. 

Target the ditch and feeder creek channels close to large flats to increase your odds of colliding with a shallow school of pre-spawn bass. Any bottom feature changes like clay transitioning to chunk rock or the addition of docks, brush or laydowns can attract bass.

You can catch a bunch of bass around the docks with a Big Bites Finesse Worm rigged on a ⅛-ounce Gamakatsu Alien Head. Try working a jig, slow crank a SPRO Little John in Clear Chartreuse or slow roll a ¼-ounce white and silver spinnerbait around shallow cover. It seems these moving lures will coax bigger bites. There have been some decent largemouth showing up in the shallows.

After-dark fishing with a deep-diving crank bait or a large black Colorado-style spinnerbait has been working well.

Striper fishing has been up and down like the forecast. 

Weather patterns seem to have a lot of effect on the stripers’ moods. One day it will be warmer with a calm overcast sky, then the next day it will be windy and chilly with bright blue skies. These conditions seem to have the stripers biting well one day, only to have lockjaw the next.

Anglers should start their day with a variety of bait, though herring and medium shiners are a must. Having a spread of herring and medium shad will cover whether the stripers are eating shad or herring. 

Throw in a big trout or gizzard shad to try and coax that big bite. This week the majority of stripers are located in the upper 25 feet of the water column, so flat lines or adding a split-shot is all you should need to catch fish.

Watch for birds diving on bait because this is the easiest and quickest way for locating actively feeding stripers. Once you see fish diving, have a SPRO Bucktail or a spoon ready to cast where the gulls are diving. Use your Humminbird Fish Finders to confirm the proper depth to set your lines and pull your herring/shad through where you mark fish.

The Bomber/McStick bite is occurring on main lake down around the damn and up around some of the islands. There are also some stripers schooling after dark in the backs of a few of the creeks around lighted boat docks.

Crappie fishing: The crappie are biting, but they seem to be on the move more than usual for this time of year. Trolling, or “spider-rigging,” is working well in some of the stained creeks and pockets.

Shooting docks or casting small jigs has been working OK in the warmer pockets. Casting live minnows 3 to 5 feet below a float around deeper brush has been producing some nice, fat slabs. Fishing minnows under a float around brush and close to bridge pilings and riprap has also produced some crappie.

Trout fishing is good, and the fishing will only get better and better as the Department of Natural Resources stocks plenty of healthy and dumb fish into North Georgia trout streams this spring.

The streams are running high, and most will be clear except directly after rains. Trout in the spring will strike a variety of lures, so you can pick your favorite method and go catching this week.

If the area you fish allows live bait, then salmon eggs, corn, live earth worms and Berkley Power nuggets are great choices when starting out. Many kids catch their first trout with live bait. Small lures like a Mepps, Rooster Tail, Rapala or even a small jig can all work to coax trout.

Fly fishing takes some practice but is an artform that many who learn it stick with for the rest of their lives. Consider watching YouTube videos and consulting with friends to see if this style of fishing may be for you.

Bank fishing: This is a great time of year to get your kids interested in the sport of fishing. You can start with an inexpensive Zebco 33 or a medium-quality spinning outfit, some hooks, bobbers and small lures for less than $50.

Fishing with live worms under a bobber is the way many anglers catch their first fish. Catching your own worms is part of the fun — get an old coffee can or Tupperware and go dig up some small red worms from the soil in your backyard. Take a worm and thread it onto a small Aberdeen style hook. Set your hook about 2 feet below a bobber and cast it out around any docks, rocks or wood lying in the water.

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.