Lake Lanier Fishing Report – April 2020

GON Staff | March 27, 2020

Lanier: Level: 1.3 feet above full pool. Temp: 60-63 degrees. Clarity: Clear on the main lake with a slight stain north of the Highway 53 bridges and the backs of major creeks.

Bass: Tournament angler and guide Ryan Coleman reports, “Fishing is excellent on Lanier as the fish are up shallow and ready to eat. There are a few largemouth bass up shallow and spawning, but the spotted bass are still staging and should start to spawn when the full moon hits in April, as long as the weather cooperates. The dock fishing is very good right now in pockets with shallow water. Just work docks 10 to 15 feet deep, especially if they are getting a lot of sun. We have been doing great on just a 3/16-oz. jig head with a straight worm like a SpotSticker Electric Shad Finesse Stick. We have also been doing well just skipping a finesse jig around those docks. As for the best bite on the lake, work a 1-oz. Mini-Me spinnerbait with painted white blades in pockets and points on the lower end. The water is slightly off colored, and the spinnerbait bite  is just on right now. The 1-oz. Mini-Me is a compact bait, and the painted blades are perfect for Lanier’s water color.  Add a 2/0 trailer hook to the back, work it on 15-lb. mono line and just burn up the banks of Lake Lanier. Keep a good distance off the shore and make long, angled casts and just keep the bait moving quickly. The 1-oz. bait will allow you to work the bait in 2 to 3 feet of water and also keep it fast without it rising to the top. Any of the shad colors are good, but spot c ducer, chartreuse billet and blue glimmer with white painted blades are excellent right now.”

Stripers: Capt. Ron Mullins reports, “The fish have started feeding shallow and will continue through April. This month is planer board and flatline month. The best places to fish are the backs of major creeks on the south side of the lake in Bald Ridge, Six Mile, Four Mile, Big and Flat. On the north side, the river systems will be the place to go. April is spawn time on Lanier for stripers, and the big fish will be eating big baits. Eight- to 12-inch gizzard shad or the biggest herring you can find will be the baits to pull in 10 to 25 feet of water in these areas. When pulling these bigger baits, the line you have behind your planer boards and flatlines with RediRig floats should be around 15 to 25 feet. This will keep your baits from finding every downed tree or brushpile you are fishing around. These areas will be holding lots of smaller fish, as well, so make sure to keep smaller herring in your spread, too. These smaller baits can be fished 50 to 100 feet behind your Capt. Mack’s Perfect Planer Boards or 75 to 125 feet behind the boat on your flatlines. Later in the day consider adding a No. 3-7 split-shot 5 to 6 feet in front of these smaller baits to get them down a bit, especially on sunny days. If you can’t get by Oakwood Bait and Tackle or Hammonds for some herring or shad, then try pulling a Capt. Mack’s Mini Mack 15 to 25 feet behind your Perfect Planer Boards, depending on the water depth you are fishing in. This setup will need a bit more speed out of your Minn Kota I-Pilot. Set your Cruise Control function at 1.5-1.7 mph and pull the boards in 10 to 25 feet of water in the backs of the creeks or around the few birds that will be around. While you are pulling down the bank, you should be casting a 3/8-oz. Capt. Mack’s white/silver Flash Chipmunk or Super Chipmunk with a herring or albino 3.3-inch SpotSticker swimbait or white Fluke trailer using a steady retrieve with an Okuma Helios 30 reel with 15-lb braid or 10- to 12-lb. mono paired on an Okuma Reflection 7-foot medium-action rod. Later in the month, the fish will move out a bit deeper in these areas to 15 to 35 feet of water and start concentrating more around points and humps in the back half of the creeks. There have been quite a few 15- to 30-pounders caught in late March, so April will be fun.”

Crappie: Capt. John McCalpin reports, “Another month’s passing brings us to an amazing time of year for crappie. The female crappie are full of eggs, and water temperature is approaching 60 degrees, which suggests that the spawn is about to begin. The heavy rains from February have subsided, and lake levels appear to be headed back to normal pool. There is still a substantial amount of debris floating or partially submerged around the lake, so be extra cautious when boating and wear your life jacket. Water condition is moderately stained north of Brown’s Bridge and practically perfect for fishing. Crappie are biting shallow under docks that are in 10 to 18 feet of water, so be prepared to set the hook quickly. Freelining minnows and jigs are both producing very well. Jig recommendations have shifted a bit, relying more on plastics and less on hair jigs. Bobby Garland’s 2-inch Baby Shad in glacier and Bayou booger colors, and ATX Lures 2-inch Baby Shad in blue grass and milk/chartreuse have produced significant numbers of high-quality fish. I’m using 1/24- or 1/32-oz. oz. jig heads with sickle hooks and 2- or 4-lb. test, high-visibility yellow line. These jigs can be used equally well for short casting, vertical jigging or dock-shooting presentations.  If you want to try dock shooting, you’ll need a one-piece rod, preferably medium-light (not ultralight) and a spinning reel. For first-timers, I recommend 2500 series Shimano reels paired with either a B’n’M SharpShooter Six or Wally Marshall Speed Shooter rod. YouTube has many videos demonstrating this highly productive technique, or visit my website and click on the “Contact” link to receive additional guidance. Moving into April, I expect the crappie to complete the spawning pattern by heading for shallow-water beds, laying their eggs and then returning to docks and brushpiles. Unless you are a very experienced crappie angler, sonar and electronic charting technologies are essential to quickly locate areas holding fish. Use scanning-type sonar (e.g. Down and Side Imaging) to locate schooling fish and complement this with the latest in live-scanning sonar technology (e.g. Garmin’s LiveScope or Lowrance’s LiveSight). Set waypoints on your electronic charts so that you can quickly return to productive locations. Note that you can do this on a smartphone or tablet using the Navionics “Boating HD Marine & Lakes” app.  Refer to my SonarAngler channel on YouTube for video illustrations of how to save time and fuel locating fish.”

Read archived fishing articles on GON’s Lake Lanier page.

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