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Lake Lanier Fishing Report: Stripers moving to river channels, ditches
Lake Lanier
Lake Lanier as seen from the air in July 2017. - photo by Nick Bowman

With continuing rain, the CORPS is still pulling a lot of water. The lake is 1,072.23, or 1.23 feet above the normal full pool of 1,071, while lake-surface temperatures are in the upper 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 muddy.

Check generation schedules before heading out to the river below Buford Dam by calling 770-945-1466. If the CORPS is pulling water, fish elsewhere.

Bass fishing has been hit-or-miss, depending on whom you talk to. 

The fish are schooling over main-lake structures and cover, feeding on blueback herring. Target offshore points and humps close to the river channels. Be prepared to move around a lot until you locate active schools of fish.

I always keep a top-water plug tied on, along with another on the deck of my Nitro this time of year. Lake Lanier’s spotted bass population feeds heavily on blueback herring in early summer, and these schools of bass can appear and sound quickly. Keeping a top-water plug or a swim bait ready to cast to these schoolers can make the difference between catching a trophy or reeling in small fish.

Building a milk run of productive areas is key to getting the best late-spring and early-summertime bite on Lake Lanier. If there’s an area that always produces but you arrive to find another boat fishing it, then you need to have several back-up areas. Often hitting new areas will provide you with several options to find a spot where the bass are actively feeding.

The techniques this week are the same as they’ve been the past few weeks, except we’re working the drop-shot rig a little more this week. 

Make a few casts over offshore brush or rock piles with a swim bait or top-water plug, then move over this cover and structure to pick off as many fish as possible with your sonar and a drop-shot rig.

My electronics always account for a couple fish I would’ve missed without owning the best electronics. On other days, every fish we catch may come while “video-game fishing” with our electronics. They are key tools for successful fishing.

Another finesse-fishing method that deserves mention is casting a Spybait over brush piles. These little finesse, subsurface, prop baits have grown greatly in popularity over the past few years. 

The secret to being successful is to cast around fish that are eating. Make a long cast past a brush pile, and let the lure fall to where fish are located. Engage your reel, using a slow-and-steady retrieve. The bites will be light, so let the fish load up before setting the hook.

Striper fishing has gotten better as the thermocline is starting to truly set up on the main lake. 

The thermocline is that level where the colder, lower layers of water meet with the warmer surface layers of water. This temperature separation is where you will often find bait fish and the active predator fish that target them.

The stripers are starting to move away from the humps and points to navigate to the lake and river channels and the ditches from 25 to 60 feet deep. These deeper fish will be found eating herring from the thermocline down and over the channels.

The down-line is your go to technique this week. Yes, you may encounter stripers on the surface early and later in the day, but the majority of fish are closer to the river channels. Keep a top-water plug, swim bait or SPRO Bucktail at the ready to cast to any surface fish that you see.

Deploy your down-lined herring and shad at around 25 to 35 feet deep. Four- to 6-inch herring or similar-sized gizzard shad seem to be the best bait this past week. Fresh bait is essential, so make sure to purchase several dozen fish and change out bait frequently. 

It’s important to keep a lively bait on at all times. When you get ready to change a bait, drop the old bait to the bottom and power-reel it back to the surface to try to trigger a reaction bite.

The spoon bite has not really gotten started, but there have been a few reports about dropping and quickly retrieving a big Ben Parker Spoon. When you see spaghetti on your electronics screen, it may be worth power=reeling a large spoon up through the school of fish you’re marking.

Crappie fishing: The daytime bite has been best early in the day. 

Cast small crappie rigs to brush that tops out in 15 to 25 feet of water. This action may pay off for dedicated perch jerkers.

The best bite continues to occur after dark for crappie, so use Hydro Glow lights around bridges. Crappie and other predator fish in Lake Lanier will be attracted to these lights. Fish a small live minnow or crappie jig, or even try casting a small Spybait around the lights to score a variety of species.

Trout fishing: Anglers have been able to enjoy some more slack generation times below Buford Dam. If you can get out for a few hours when the water is low, then you can just about pick your favorite method to catch these fish this week. 

Dry flies, live bait, inline spinners and other small lures are all worth a try.

The almost daily afternoon showers are keeping the rivers and streams in North Georgia flowing well. During or after the rains, fishing will be a little tough, but when the water clears, fishing will be good.

Bank fishing: The rains have kept bass and brim in the shallows both on Lake Lanier as well as on your local subdivision and farm ponds. Take a variety of small lures and a spin-casting or spinning reel, and you should be able to catch bass and brim by fishing from the shore.

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.