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Lake Lanier Fishing Report: Start around rocky points to catch bass
Eric Aldrich
Eric Aldrich with the Fishing Report - photo by Eric Aldrich

Lake Lanier’s water level is at 1075.57 or 4.57 over the full pool level of 1,071 and it is rising again. 

Water temperatures remain in the low 50’s. Note that many of the CORPS boat ramps still 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 to 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 been hit and miss. 

Some anglers are scoring some big limits, while others are struggling. With all the water above the normal banks, the fish have been scattered in the shallows but a little more grouped up out deep. Many patterns are working. Keep an open mind and get out and go fishing. 

Early in the day, there have been some good fish up shallow on the points and humps. 

Most of the reef pole markers are in about 12-foot of water and they can clue you in to the key locations where bass will be feeding early in the day. Cast moving lures like a SPRO RkCrawler, Little John MD, Strike King Series 4 or even a McStick 110. Work your crank baits slow and steady. Try to get them to dig at or close to the bottom. If you are casting a Jerk Bait, use a jerk and long-pause retrieve as this seems to be working best. Most of your strikes on the jerk bait will occur on the pause.

In the stained or muddy water up lake and in the back of the creeks, a spinner bait or even a Blue Heron Lures Chatterbait worked around docks, laydowns or brush has been working well for triggering reaction bites. Bass often feel a lure before they actually see it, especially in off-colored water. 

Try casting lures that put out a lot of vibration, if you’re fishing up lake where its stained or muddy.

Usually the bass will be staging in 15-20 feet of water right now, but 25-feet seems to be a good place to target with the high water. 

Rocky drop-offs, leading into the spawning coves and brush piles located on main lake points and humps, are all good places to probe with shaky heads, Ned Rigs, jigs, smaller swim baits or even an underspin like a Fish Head Spin rigged with a 3 1/2-inch Big Bites Suicide Shad. 

Remember that ditches and small channels that feed into large flats in the pockets are bass highways. 

Spotted and Largemouth bass use these concave bottom contours to move from shallow to deep. Spring is approaching soon. These fish want to move shallow, but colder water temperatures are keeping them deeper. You can bet they are lining up somewhere along these channels getting ready to migrate.

Striper fishing has been decent, but the fish are staying a good bit deeper than is usual for this time of year. 

Main lake ditches, midway back in the lower lake creeks and even in the upper lake creeks and rivers are all holding fish right now. I prefer to fish the main lake where the water is clearer, but anglers should still keep an eye out for the mudlines that appear as the stained or muddy rain inflows enter the lake.

The downline bite remains strong, but you need to find the large baitfish schools before stopping and dropping bait down to these deeper fish. Explore the ditch channels and pay attention to where they lead out into deeper water closer to the timberlines. Quality electronics, like my Lowrance 12 and 16-inch Carbon graphs, are a must for locating the large schools of bait and the stripers that are feasting upon them.

Start out with your Lowrance Electronics set on a split screen showing Structure Scan (side imaging) and traditional 2/D, so you can see bait and fish both out to the sides and directly below the boat. 

With a huge 16-inch screen, I can also set up my map and Down Scan and basically have the equivalent of four 7-inch screens all in one. Run your boat around 5 mph so you can cover water and find fish quickly. Pay attention to feeding gulls and loons to key you in on the most productive areas.

Once you locate a large school of bait with stripers feeding on them, deploy your down lines at the same level where you mark fish. 

A good down line set up is a 1-2-ounce oval lead weight on your main line with a plastic bead and swivel. Tie a long 4-6-foot leader with a No. 1 or No. 2 Octopus hook with a nose-hooked live bait so that is swims naturally. I use 14-pound Sunline Natural Monofilament for my main line with a 12-pound Sunline Sniper Fluorocarbon Leader. 

Herring have worked best this week, followed by medium-to-large shiners as a close second.

The night bite with Bomber Long A’s and SPRO McSticks has been a little slow to get going because water temperatures haven’t really warmed up all winter. 

Look for this to improve as soon as we get some warmer weather and as the water warms up into the mid 50’s. 

I stay booked on the weekends several weeks out, but booking a night trip for catching stripers is a great way to spend a weeknight evening. We usually fish from 6-11 p.m. On a good night, we will catch enough to tire before then. My night trips cost $200. Email me if you want to be added to my list. I can email you once the bite gets hot.

Crappie fishing, like bass fishing has been hit and miss. Different patterns are working, depending on where you fish. 

The deep-dock bite still seems to your best bet. 

Shoot very bright or very dark colored 1/16 to 1/32-ounce jigs under docks. Allow them to fall or pendulum deep down around brush in 15 to 25-feet. Using a bright colored line like Sunline Siglon Florescent Orange line will allow you to see the subtle tics when a bite occurs.

There have also been some anglers who are catching crappie under floats around the bridges both up lake and down lake. Use a slip bobber set to 3-8 feet deep, rigged with a live shad or crappie minnow hooked through the back with a Gamakatsu No. 3 Aberdeen style hook.

Bank Fishing: Striper fishing from the banks can be very productive in the winter. That is why they get mentioned so often in these reports. 

Anglers can set up multiple rods to increase their odds. You can make inexpensive and effective rod holders out of PVC pipe by cutting them with one end cut at a 45-degree angle and the other cut straight. Make sure you use a PVC pipe that is large enough to hold your rod handle.

You can fish live or cut bait on the bottom with a Carolina Rig (down line) or a live gizzard shad or large shiner under a slip bobber. The slip bobbers are a great choice when the wind is blowing at your back, out into the lake whereas the Carolina Rig bottom style set up works well.

Set up as many rods as you can manage. 

You can put bells or electronic line alarms so that you get an audible alert. Not only will you catch stripers with these set ups, but you may also catch bass, catfish, crappie and even white bass, too. You don’t have to own a boat to have fun catching fish on Lake Lanier.