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Lake Lanier Fishing Report-May 22, 2020

By Captain Mack's Blog, Captain Mack's Fishing Reports, Lake Lanier Fishing Reports


Now that have had Blackberry winter, maybe we can stash the cold gear away until next fall. The weather forecast calls for a return to relatively average temps, although there are rain chances almost every day until early June. The lake level fell slightly last week and is now .58 feet over full pool, and as of Friday morning the current level was 1071.58. The surface temps are around 72 degrees.

The Stripers are on a good bite, still across the board technique wise, and that may remain the case until water temps warm to the point of pushing the fish out of shallow water. So, be prepared for a little of everything, a mix of downlines and free line/planers, combined with some casting some top waters and Minis! I think the bite still varies from the lower end compared to the upper end, with the fish being more scattered on the lower end, more bunched up and better numbers as you go into either river. The patterns are basically the same as last week, you can just add in your favorite topwater bait as that bite is becoming stronger. 

On the lower end, look for the fish to be around points and humps, and there are some fish roaming around the backs of lower end creek channels over a 35 to 50 foot bottom. The fish on the humps and points may be suspended off of the side of the structure, so look for that as you approach the area. The fish may also be right on the crest of the hump/point especially early in the day. Don’t ignore brush piles on these high spots, the Stripers will often be around or over the brush as well. If the you are targeting fish in water over 20 to 25, set up with down lines and see if you can pull the fish up under the boat, if you are fishing in depths of 20 feet or less pull the free lines and boards over and around the hump/point, casting a topwater, Fluke or Mini to the shallowest part of the structure. 

If you are venturing into the upper parts of the river, points and humps are still very likely areas to look for fish, but include flats along the sides of the creek or river channels in your search area. Apply the same basic depth guidelines mentioned in the above paragraph, and if you get near a point or over a shallow hump casting one if the previous mentioned baits will generally be worth some bonus bites. 

The Bass bite is good and while the fish remain scattered out, they are definitely moving onto brush and off shore structures. There are still some nice fish in shallow water, particularly early or if the weather offers up the cloudy, low light conditions we experienced during most of the last week. Look for the shallow fish around points and humps, sand saddles between the islands and anywhere you can find a bait fish spawn. With water temps in the low 70’s these shallow patterns should continue to produce for a few days. 

20 to 25 foot brush is definitely a good place to look for fish, as that traditional Lanier pattern is going strength. Topwater over the brush will get the bite, I am not sure which bait is best?  I think almost any of your favorite walking baits or poppers will get the bite. Bone has been a good color with the overcast skies lately, that may change when the sun appears, so factor in the weather when selecting a color. A lightly weighted Fluke has also been an excellent bait lately for casting any over the brush, and makes a great change up to the topwater. Another bait that can be very effective cast over brush is the Steelshad. These baits are a little under the radar, but are very productive. The weight and compact size of this bait allow for long casts, and it can be retrieved fairly quickly and still hold he depth if needed. It is also a very good bait to cast to any schooling fish you may see.

I mentioned that there are fish on many of the saddles around the islands and between the reef poles, and I have had good luck casting top waters and flukes early, switching to Mini Macks later in the day. Try this twist on this pattern, as you approach one of these areas watch the sonar. If you see fish on the down imaging anywhere from 5 to 20 fleet, take the boat out of gear, walk to the back of the boat and cast the Mini in your boat wake. If the bottom is clean, let the Mini sink to the bottom and then start a steady retrieve. It is amazing how effective this can be! The boat will not spook the fish, but you’ll need to do all of this quickly as the further the boat gets from the fish the harder it is to get the Mini in the strike zone. Remember how small an area of bottom you are looking at in the above mentioned depths, so your cast needs to be precise. This also applies to the Striper fishermen, if you see fish on you sonar or down imaging when you approach and area, or when you are pulling a bait spread, make cast right over the motor between your freelines and it is amazing how often you’ll get a bite. The fish you hook will often bring fish with him, pulling them up and into your bait spread which will often account for a couple of extra bites! 

Good Fishing!!

Capt. Mack


Lake Hartwell Fishing Report- May 7, 2020

By Captain Mack's Blog, Fishing Tips, Lake Hartwell Fishing Report No Comments


Our Lake Hartwell Fishing Report for May 07, 2020

Welcome back to a complete Lake Hartwell Fishing Report, the objective of these weekly reports are to supply you with the most up to date fishing for Lake Hartwell. Now today is a special day for me, it’s my birthday and I spent it on the lake all by myself enjoying what I love, fishing! I may be an old man but when I get in the boat and on a school of fish I feel like I’m only as young as my mind tells me that I am instead of how old my body reminds me that I am! Fishing can provide you a vitamin and boost that you just can’t buy anywhere else. It’s good medicine for the mind, body and soul. This Sunday is Mother’s Day so it’s a good week to honor your mom by taking her on a fishing trip and create a lifelong memory; she already thinks that you are her best catch ever. I’m still teaching Instructional Fishing Classes on the water so give us a call and let’s learn something new. So as I remind everyone who wants to catch fish, my advice is let’s let, Humminbird Find Them, Minn Kota Sneak up on Them, Stealth Rod Holders Hold Them, Captain Mack Products Fool Them and Okuma Rods and Reels Put Them in the Boat! So let’s go Fishing!  

The Lake Hartwell water levels at the time of this report are 661.44 which is.1.44 feet above the 660 full pool levels. The current water temperatures are sixty seven degrees. We continue to have a lot of cold fronts moving through this past week with a major cold front coming in this weekend that will possibly drop temperatures back into the thirties by Sunday, yes I said the thirties after it has been in the high eighties for the beginning of this week. Let’s just see what this does to our fishing in the coming days.


Striper and Hybrid fishing has been fair this past week and the false spawn seem to be coming to an end earlier than usual especially on the Seneca River arm of the lake. Keep in mind that not all the Stripers and Hybrids spawn at the same time so you will be able to catch some fish as they go up the rivers as well as fish as they are on their way back out of the rivers. This past week the Striper and Hybrid fishing has been really tough. One of the best guides on the lake came off the water this past week with only two fish which left him with the same attitude that we all have experienced before as he remarked that he would be burning his log books, selling his boat and gear as he is sick of the way these fish treat us all sometimes! Now we all have had those kinds of trips and we all have experienced those same emotions to just go right back out a few days later to load the boat. It’s hard to explain how fishing can be great one day and the F.B.I can’t even find the fish the very next day but you just can’t give up. If you look at last year’s report for this same time you will see that the fishing was great, so just hang in there it’s just a matter of time and the bite will be back just as it always does during this time of the year. It’s time to pull up on the shallow points before daylight early morning to catch the Stripers and Hybrids as they chase bait into the shallow waters before daylight. This bite is usually fast if you hit the right point and you can easily be out of bait before the sun comes up if the fish are biting on your point. This method is covered in our Instructional Trips and it is a fun and productive way to catch a big box of fish. The big fish are biting right now and this week’s picture is of a Spring time fish caught pulling a Planer Board across a point on Lake Hartwell. If you want to book a future fishing trip during this spring season on Lake Hartwell or get your Instructional Trip done before the spring bite is over with then now is the time to get these trips booked. I’ve been told that I give to many secrets away when it comes to Striper and Hybrid fishing, well I plead guilty but I want to be known as the Striper fisherman that shared his all. If you fished an Instructional Trip this past year you can use your Instructional Book to put yourselves in the right places to catch fish during the next month and don’t forget I’m just a phone call away. I would make a serious suggestion being if you are not prepared to pull Umbrella Rigs or Mini Mack’s and if you want to pull big baits on your Perfect Planer Boards you might want to look at the bottom of this report for my suggestions on gear to catch fish during the next few months. It’s time to pull some Perfect Planer Boards with gizzard shad close to the banks or in the backs of the creeks where the big fish roam. When I move back out of the backs of the creeks I deploy two ultra-light freelines behind the boat rigged with live herring to catch the fish that are feeding on top and you would be surprised at just how many fish I catch on these ultra-light rigs. I usually locate these fish one of two ways. I locate them on my Humminbird Side Imaging or Down Imaging and the minute that I get them under the boat I drop my live bait and Mini Mack’s into the schools of fish. If the fish decide not to eat my live bait then my Captain Mack Umbrella Rigs are my automatic tools for the guaranteed bite. The Captain Mack Umbrella Rigs work great now and will continue to work as spring arrives. If you want to catch fish during the next couple of months you should add Captain Mack Umbrella Rigs to your fishing gear for the guaranteed bite. Again we cover all these methods in our Instructional Trips and it’s a fun way to catch some good Stripers. One main item that we cover in our Instructional Fishing Trips is how to locate Stripers and Hybrids and then the best methods to catching them. There are many ways to catch Stripers and Hybrids on Lake Hartwell and our Instructional Trips cover all of these points. Now is one of the best times to fish one of our Instructional Trips, it’s also a great time to witness first-hand what a changing season and pattern does to the fish and how to adapt to new fishing patterns. When you fish an Instructional Trip you will learn everything there is to know about catching Stripers and Hybrids on Lake Hartwell or your home lake and you will be given the chance to ask all the questions that very few professional Striper fishermen will share, so if you are interested in learning all the different techniques to catching Stripers and Hybrid Bass now is one of the best times to get in a teaching boat for an Instructional Trip or it’s a good time to get your calendar out and go ahead and book a future trip as they book up quickly when the weather begins to warm back up. If you have ever wanted to be one of the boats that come to the dock with your limit after a good spring fishing trip you might want to book a trip really soon. A Striper Instructional Trip will be the best trip that you will ever take and it will increase your odds of catching fish tremendously on any Striper or Hybrid lake. If you are interested in booking a future 2020 Instructional Trip or guide trip give Captain Mack a call at 770-235-8135.

Go to baits for this week.

  • Live Blueback Herring or Gizzard Shad fished on down rods and freelines. The bait shops are all suppling good quality bait and several have the gizzard shad that you will need for that big fish bite. Be sure to add O2 from your Keep Alive O2 system to keep this bait healthy during your trip. The live bait bite has been tough but should get better soon.
  • Okuma Classic Pro Striper Rods. This live Bait Rod paired with the Okuma Cold Water CW203D reel is a great match, this rod and reel combo is the perfect Striper and Hybrid combo and it is unmatched in its ability to handle a good fish while giving you all you need to enjoy the fight. This rod and reel combo is the perfect tool and I would give this rod and reel an A++ for Striper Live Bait Fishing. If you choose another reel that will be up to you but try the Okuma Classic Striper Rod side by side with your other rods and I promise you that you will see the difference immediately!
  • Captain Mack Super Spoons or Captain Mack Jig’N Shad spoons. These Jigs are great for fish that are bunched up and hugging the bottom. These Jigs are a must have for the winter months.
  • Any top water bait of your choice; I prefer a spook or anything in a chrome color. Flukes and swim baits paired with one of Captain Mack’s trailers. The chartreuse trailer works the best for me. 
  • Keep Alive Oxygen System. This system will make a huge difference in your bait. I know from experience that this system will help keep your bait in perfect condition during your day of fishing and increase your odds of catching fish with the best bait you can put in the water.
  • Captain Mack Umbrella Rigs. I will never go to the lake without them! The Umbrella Rig bite is a guaranteed bite now and the four arm nine bait rigs are working the best. These rigs are best fished using the Okuma 303 Coldwater series on a Captain Mack Trolling Rod. They can be purchased at Lake Hartwell Fish and Marine as well as Sportsman’s Warehouse and Academy Sports. If your favorites bait and tackle shop does not carry them you might want to ask for them. I like to get my tackle where I normally shop and I hate to go to the lake without everything that I need to catch a good box of fish.
  • Captain Mack Mini Mack’s – they will catch good fish if trolled with your trolling motor at .08 mph or pulled behind your Perfect Planer Boards. Pulling this rig behind your planer boards is working great right now and gives you the ability to cover a lot of water! These rigs are hard to find right now as they sell out quickly. They can be found at Lake Hartwell Fish and Marine and I personally would ask my favorite fishing store to purchase them so that you always have a good supply at your go to bait shop.
  • Perfect Planer Boards. This is the best Planer Board I have ever used. The Planer Board bite can be an all-day bite right now as you cover a lot of water. It is working great right now and it gives you the ability to put more bait in the water which always increases your odds of catching more fish. I will fish Planer Boards every trip during the fall and winter months waiting for that big explosion that always seems to come behind a Planer Board.
  • Stealth QR2 Quick Release Rod Holders. This is a NEW Technology Rod Holder and it is built for the fisherman that wants the best for their boats and the ability to fish at any angle that you would like to fish with a few simple adjustments that you can make without tools on the fly. Down rods, freelines or Umbrella Rigs these rod holders will get the job done and they come with a Lifetime Guarantee. The clients that I have fished since installing these new rod holders have already said that they are the BEST that they have ever used and are looking to install them on their boats. (If you are buying a new boat this year please check out the Stealth QR2. Do not scratch up your rails with other rod holders when you can install a Stealth QR2 that will leave no marks on your new rails and will do you an excellent job.)


This past week has been good for Bass fishing. The Spotted Bass bite has been fair with Spotted Bass coming off of points that drop off into 20-40 feet of water being caught on Alabama Rigs, Ned Rigs, Drop Shots, Shakey Heads and Carolina Rigs with soft plastics. The Largemouth Bass are biting well off of points and in the backs of coves around structure off of Spinner Baits and Crankbaits. We are seeing some schooling activity just at sun down in the early evening hours. There are a few fish still on bed but it appears that most of the fish are moving back to feeding on baits in their normal feeding patterns. Captain Mack under Spin Jig.

  • KVD 1.5 Magnum Square Bill baits in the color of your choice, with all the rain I would suggest something in a shad or chartreuse color. Deeper diving crank baits are also working in these same colors.
  • Ned Rigs and hard and soft Jerk Baits of your preference, the Robo Worms are working best. We are catching some good fish on swimbaits rigged with Captain Mack Trailers; again the chartreuse color is working the best.
  • Captain Mack Weedless Wonder Shakey Head rigged with a Robo six inch Morning Dawn or Bluegill worms as well as some new colors we are using. The Captain Mack Weedless Wonder is the BEST Bass bait that I know of for Lake Hartwell and I recommend that you not go to the lake without rods rigged with the Weedless Wonder!
  • Captain Mack Mini Mack’s. If you want to catch some big Spotted Bass this is a go to bait!
  • Robo Worms are working the best for us. There are several colors that work great!
  • Steel Shads in various colors and sizes are working around structure as well as in open water.
  • Spinner Baits of your choice will get the job done.


The Crappie bite is good and the fish are still under docks with some donkeys being caught as you move from one dock to another. Patients will get the job done as you take your time and move from one place to another. The recent blow downs created from some pretty bad Lake Hartwell storms from earlier weeks are holding some good numbers of fish. A new tree in the water is a great condo for fish looking for a new hang out and you would be surprised how quickly they will find it and make it their home. You might have to catch ten fish to catch a few good keepers but it’s a good bite and a fun bite as you move from one blow down to another. Live bait under a float and your favorite jigs are working well.

 Go to Baits for this week.

  • Small minnows fished on four pound test line under small floats pitched under docks or over brush will get you the bite you’re looking for. Tipping a jig with a small minnow is working also.
  • Popeye Jigs are doing the job right now and if fished slowly in deeper brush piles they will produce the bite you are looking for. I will share a secret to fishing this jig later in the year as the water gets much colder so stay tuned and I will let you know when this idea begins to work.
  • Give Captain Mack a call and order you a good supply of Crappie Country Jigs or drop by Lake Hartwell Fish and Marine and pick out a good selection from their large collection of colors and sizes. They come in some Crappie killer colors and they will produce some good fish.
  • Humminbird Solix or Helix graphs and Minn Koto Trolling Motors. These graphs have superior side imaging and down imaging and are worth every cent if you are looking to locate Crappie. You have to find them to catch them and Humminbird gives you that ability. 


Wishing you all tight lines and good fishing! Rick Owen – Lake Hartwell Professional Fishing Guide (Ret.) Certified SCDNR Fishing Instruction. To book your next Lake Hartwell fishing adventure please call Captain Mack Farr at  770-235-8135





Lake Lanier Fishing Report March 28, 2020

By Captain Mack's Blog, Captain Mack's Fishing Reports, Lake Lanier Fishing Reports No Comments

Conditions are changing quickly as mild weather has warmed the water into low 60’s, a couple of degrees higher in the back of the creeks. The Typical signs of Spring are here, Pollen blankets the lake, the Geese are squawking and fighting, and the fish are responding to the warming water. The lake level remains elevated at 1073.08, 2.08 feet over full pool and 1.38 feet up from last week’s level. 

Overall Striper fishing is good, with several techniques that are producing well. The patterns are basically the same as last week, a mix of free lines, planers, and down lines, with some opportunities to cast to surfacing fish. If you can find a green light that is operational that pattern is also producing well. Many of the fish are still roaming over open water areas, creek channels or over the one of the river channels. Live baits behind a planer board or on the free line are probably the most consistent pattern, but keep the down lines handy as that is also a viable technique as well, especially over the open water. To locate these open water fish, watch the Gulls and Loons, they have been a big asset in the last few weeks. If the birds do not offer any help, pulling baits over as section of the channel will be the other option.  Keep moving until you start seeing fish on the sonar, then tweak the depth to maximize the bite. Herring have been the bait of choice but Gizzard Shad are also producing and some days may be the better producer. A Mini Mack is also very productive, on the Stealth troll, either straight down or on the planers, depending on the depth at which you are marking fish. 

Speaking of Mini Mack’s, if you see surfacing fish casting the Mini to them has been very good. Cast it to the fish and begin your retrieve as soon as the bait hits the water, if there is a fish there he will come and get it. I do need to clarify this surfacing fish scenario, this pattern really is about seeing the Gulls and Loons. They have been bunching up into really tight groups sometimes (see attached picture)making it hard to physically see the fish. If you see the birds working hard, motor over to them and cast the Mini and hang on, don’t wait to see the fish surface.  When you get in an area where this is occurring, and the birds stop working, often if you will deploy the baits and Minis and start pulling you will be able to stay in that area and catch more fish even if they are not activity surfacing. Some other baits that are effective for the schoolers are Fish Head Spins, 1/2 oz Bucktails, and flukes. I’ll try and get some video up to illustrate this pattern sometime early this week.

If you are a night owl, the after hours fishing is better than it has been in recent weeks now that the water has warmed. The green lights are holding fish, both Stripers and Bass. Buck tails, Flukes and pitching live baits are all good choices. Any light should hold fish, but lights in the upper parts of the lake may be best. 

Bass fishing is typical for the surface temps, and other than dealing with moving fish and still changing conditions, the bite is good. Most of the techniques that were in play last week are still effective, and you can add in sight fishing some bedding fish over much of the lake. Docks are still a very productive and reliable pattern, rocky points will get some bites, blown down trees, really almost any good shallow cover may hold fish.

Plastics are producing well, the Neko rig with a Senko or Yum Dinger, your favorite worm on a Shakey head, Fish Head Spins, and of course the Keitechs on a jig head.  A finesse worm on the Texas rig is pretty much forgotten, but can be very productive. Another bait that can be really good this time of year is an in-line spinner bait. I know what your are thinking, it is too small and the bigger fish will not respond. That is not the case at all, just because these baits are small, small fish can and will eat them, but the bigger fish will eat them as well. Try rigging up a small spinning rod with 4 or 6 lb. test and trying on a small in line bait. Cast it to rocky banks, stump flats, shallow humps and retrieve it slowly letting it follow the contour of the bottom as you retrieve it. The light line is very stealthy, enables you to make long casts, and it allows the bait to hold its depth even on a fairly quick retrieve. You’ll find this to be a fun and productive method, and on really calm days it can make a big difference in the numbers fish you catch. 

Good Fishing

Capt. Mack