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Lake Lanier Fishing Report: Start around rocky points to catch bass
Lake Lanier
Lake Lanier as seen from the air in July 2017. - photo by Nick Bowman

Lake Lanier’s water level is at 1,075.86 or 4.86 over the full pool level of 1,071 and falling.

The CORPs has done an awesome job keeping all of the rain and lake level in check. They were able to keep the lake from reaching the all-time record high of 1,077.12. Water temperatures are in the low 50’s. 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 clear on the main lake and slightly stained in the coves and finger pockets. The backs of the creeks and the inflow from the rivers remain very stained and still muddy in some places. The Chattahoochee River below Buford Dam is clear.

Check generation schedules before heading out to the river at (770) 945-1466.

Bass fishing has actually been decent even with the high-water levels.

The water has been so high that the shoreline is drawn back into the woods in many places.

We have had our best luck ignoring the shallows for the most part. Instead, try fishing areas where you have caught bass in years past during normal lake levels.

Rocky areas seem to be the best areas to target. Banks where the bottom type transitions from rock to clay or sand to rock or even small pebbles to larger rock have all held fish this past week.

Start you day casting crank baits around rocky points in the creek mouths on back into midcreek coves. Work your crank baits slowly and allow them to dig deep into the bottom. Rocks heat up quicker than other types of bottom structure and crayfish are drawn to them for both heat and shelter.

Bass love crawfish as they provide a big, tasty, protein-rich meal. These tasty critters help bass to store up energy as they continue to put on weight before the spawn. Other lures that mimic crawfish live jigs, Ned Rigs or creature baits rigged on a Carolina or Jig Head.

Before the introduction of modern-day GPS anglers had to learn to set brush piles using triangulation.

Triangulation is the process of lining up three objects on the shore line or horizon so that you can relocate brush and other objects found on the bottom. Now the process is a lot easier because finding brush or other bottom objects and putting a GPS waypoint is as simple as seeing it on the screen and then touching the screen or using the scroll arrows to place a waypoint. I provide on-the-water classes about boat electronics. Email me at esaldrich@yahoo.com or look me up on Facebook to book an instructional trip.

Striper fishing has been good and the water color has improved in most areas.

The rivers and waybacks of the creeks continue to be very stained to almost muddy. Anglers should continue to check areas where the clear, main lake water meets the stained or muddy water inflow during or after the frequent rains we have been having.

In the areas in the rivers and creeks, striper anglers should pull a combination of flat and down lines and let the stripers that bite tell you their preference. In late winter and early spring, stripers go through the motions of spawning. Although they go through the process, our stripers seldom reproduce successfully in Lake Lanier’s rivers and creeks. Striper eggs need fast-flowing, clear water. Our rivers tend to get really cloudy when they are flowing fast. Our feeder rivers and creeks are not conclusive to a healthy striper spawn.

When these stripers move into the creeks, they can often be found either deep or very shallow.

Running both down and flat lines allows you an opportunity to cover the water column from top to bottom. If the stripers are shallow, pull in your downlines and deploy planner boards. Planner boards help you cover a much wider spread and also allow you to run your baits far away from the boat and much closer to the bank.

Down lines may be your better choice down lake and in the mouths of the creeks.

The gulls and loons provide and easy way to pattern fish. If these baitfish-eating birds are in the area and feeding than you can bet the bait and stripers are there too. Use medium-to-large shiners, herring or trout. Make sure to purchase enough bait for an outing. If you get into a large school of fish, you do not want to run out of bait when the fishing gets fast and furious.

You should also have a high-quality fish finder like my Lowrance Carbon units to show you how deep the bait and stripers are and a quality mapping chip like my Navionics Hot Maps to show you the best areas. Seeing good bottom cartography will help greatly for determining the best locations to start.

Get out your Bomber Long A’s and SPRO McSticks starts to improve.

Target the green Hydro Glow lights around docks in the back of the creeks for your best action.

Cast these large plugs to the shore, reel them back slow and steady and hold on.

Crappie fishing is getting good and now is the time to make a milk run of docks that have brush planted below them. Scan the docks with your Lowrance Side Structure Scan.

I set my Lowrance Carbon 16 to scan only the right-hand side. Then I run down the side to scan these docks to find the schools of crappie that appear like small ovals in groups of at least 10 or many more.

Use 4-6 points test line on your reels and use a 6-7-foot long limber poles and either shoot or cast your crappie jigs under docks where the brush is located. Allow your tiny jigs to pendulum down back to the boat. Keep making cast as long as you get bites.

Some anglers will catch their entire limit of one or two docks.

Other methods like trolling or fishing minnows under a float have also just started to work.

Bank Fishing: Crappie start to move shallow in late winter and early spring. Get out your lightweight spinning or spin casting outfits and head to the lake. Crappies tend to group in schools in the late winter. These tasty pan fish make for fine table fare. My favorite way to cook them is deep fried for fish tacos.

Walk the banks and look for dead trees that have been laying down in the lake for a couple of years.

Other areas like bridges, docks, rip rap banks and anything else that can provide cover for the fish to hide.

Get a cooler, several light-or-medium weight crappie rods, a bucket full of small or crappie minnows and some light Aberdeen Style hooks to fish. Buy the bobbers that have a weight built into them as they are much easier to cast. Experiment with the depth you set below each bobber. Pay attention to how deep they are when you catch a fish.

When you get a bite, stick around in that area as crappie hang out in schools and there may be many closer by. If you set out your lines and don’t get a bite in a half an hour, then it’s probably a good time to move down the bank to more productive water.