Lake Lanier is fishing well, but things are changing quickly as the water temps warm in response to our recent mild weather. The surface temps had been holding right at 50 degrees for the last 4 weeks until now, and we have seen afternoon readings as high as 58 in the creek backs. Main lake readings are around 54, depending on area and time of day. The lake conditions have stabilized and while there is plenty of stained water, there are really no areas where the water is “blown out” from last weeks rain dumps. So, the bite is good, the extended weather forecast is also pretty good, it is time to go fishing! The lake level is falling and is currently 1074.53, 3.53 feet above full pool. FYI, to address some of your inquiries, I do have a couple of days left for the instructional trip here on Lanier let us know if you are interesting in booking!
If you are chasing Stripers, they are biting, but they may not be where they were the last time you went to the lake. The switch flipped last week and the deep bite that had been so prominent for so long has basically been replaced by more springlike patterns. While you will still see fish over open water and deep bait, the bite has shifted more to fish higher up in the water column, and fish pushing bait along the banks and up to the surface. Watch for Loons and Gulls working bait, that pattern had been a non factor until a few days ago, but it is now a pretty frequent occurrence. This is not to say that you can put the down lines away, that is still a very big part of the plan, and be prepared to use them along with the free lines and planers. It will be common to fish nice groups of fish that are all over the water column, so you may get a catch a fish on a free line, and then the next bite will be on the down line. Stagger the baits based on what the sonar shows, employing a mix of free lines, weighted free lines, down lines and planers. Herring have been very effective, but a Gizzard Said will also be a good bait. Shiners are also viable, and while the fish do not really seem to be focused on smaller baits, the shiners can often be very effective, and keeping one on spinning rod with a light leader may add a couple of extra bites for over the course of the day.
Trolling has been a very good technique, with on the big umbrellas and with the Mini Macks. With plenty of fish moving around in less than 40 feet of water as opposed to 40 plus, more fish are accessible to trollers. And even if you are bait fishing, keeping a Mini Mack in the spread is a good tactic. If the fish are deeper than 20, you can fish it as a down line or under a Planer. If you are in shallow water, or are marking fish that are less than 20, fish the Mini under the board. Keep something tied on to cast, with Stripers up on the banks or on the surface, casting a small jig, Fluke or Steelshad can be very productive. The Stripers are showing up all over the lake, but I think the bite is best bite up in the upper reaches of the lake, either river arm, and there are good numbers of surfacing fish showing up in the last hour of the day.
Bass fishing remains strong, with fish still being all over the depth wise, but the shallow patterns are definitely becoming more prominent. The long term forecast indicates a lot of cloudy days, with rain showers, weather that is often very conducive to fishing your favorite pre spawn techniques. Jerk baits, spinner baits, and crank baits are all effective right now. With many of the shallow fish being scattered out after the rapid rise in lake level, and plenty of shallow cover available, these high saturation baits can be very effective.
Soft plastics are still producing well, maybe the best bet for consistency. The Roboworms on the weedless wonder around the docks is very strong. Docks in 12 to 25 feet, middle part of the creeks will be a good starting point. These numbers can change based on the weather on any day, so keep that in mind if you are pounding the docks. Hula Grubs on the Weedless Wonder are also good for the dock bite, and any other pattern for that matter. The 4” Model has been a consistent producer. The Keitechs on a swim jig/lead head are also good choices right now. Rocky points and rock piles of of the points are producing well, and consider crank baits if you are targeting the rocks. Baits that run 7 to 15 are doing well, match the color to the water color and this pattern should produce some good numbers and put some big fish in the box as well.