Lake Lanier Fishing Report – April 2023
Lanier: Level: Full at 1071. Temp: Low to mid 60s. Clarity: The main lake water is clear and a slight stain is the norm north of the Highway 53 bridges and toward the backs of the major creeks.
Bass: Jimbo from Jimbo’s Lake Lanier Spotted Bass Guide Service reports, “Fishing during the spawn can provide some interesting opportunities and many different choices. Bass focused on the spawn are often quite finicky and tough to catch at times. Bed fishing is very popular this time of year, especially for tournament anglers, and certainly can provide some outstanding catches. In most instances, I prefer to leave the fish to their reproductive cycle and often shy away from bed fishing. In this report, I will focus on tips and techniques to catch fish as an alternative to the bed fishing option. This year we are ahead of historical averages in terms of water temperature. The water level has been near full pool most of the winter and spring. Depending on weather trends for the remainder of March, the spawn in April could occur ahead of schedule. Most of the largemouth in the lake will physically go on the bed at water temperatures of 56 to 60 degrees. The spotted bass tend to spawn a bit later when the water temperatures reach 62 degrees or above. Typically, the fish spawn in waves rather than all at once. After the first wave of fish complete their spawning routine, there will be fish in all stages of the spawn for the next 30 to 45 days, depending on the weather conditions and water temperatures. Further, it is important to understand that many fish that spawn do so during a favorable moon phase, given the noted water temperature requirements are met. The full and new moon phases often prompt fish to move into their bedding routine. Make sure to cross reference the moon calendar with water data to understand when fish will likely begin their spawning rituals. The largemouth in Lake Lanier tend to spawn shallower than do the spotted bass. The largemouth can be found bedding in creek pockets, often in the backs of these pockets, in a protected area. They will position themselves next to a piece of cover, such as a blowdown tree or stump for security and are often in 3 feet of water or less. The spotted bass can frequently be found in similar areas, often preferring a hard bottom-type area, such as that of a pebble rock/clay flat. Also, the spots will not necessarily be at the back of a pocket or creek arm but may be found in any location with the correct bottom composition throughout the creek. And again, the spots will typically spawn deeper than do the largemouth and can generally be found in 6 to 12 feet of water and deeper. Unlike the largemouth, there are a contingency of the spotted bass that will spawn on the main lake. These fish can be found on or around humps, points, islands and sandy saddles between islands on the main lake. These females are often some of the biggest fish in the lake. So, if you are looking for a trophy spot in the springtime, your efforts may be better spent on the main lake as opposed to the creeks. The creeks, however, will offer greater numbers of fish and more action than will the main lake in most cases. Spots and largemouth both will stage around and under docks near likely spawning areas. Check those areas thoroughly. Now that we have explored the location that fish can be found during the spawn, I want to share some of the techniques and lures that can be used to catch these fish. Rather than focusing on specific bed fishing techniques, which are multi-faceted and often different with each pair of targeted fish on any given day, I am going to share some proven tactics that can be used to catch fish just before they actually lock down on the beds. A jig head/worm combo and a jig are proven fish catchers year-round, and the spawn is no different. These are great baits to skip and pitch around docks for those staging fish we discussed earlier in this article. Use a 3/16-oz. Georgia Blade Jig Head and tip it with a Berkley Hit Worm or Flat Worm. If the fish are ultra-finicky, don’t forget the Carolina rig to present your soft plastics. This presentation method is often ideal for finicky spawning bass. Drag or drift this rig slowly over secondary points or the ends of spawning flats for some potentially awesome results. Also, when fishing a Georgia Blade Jig Head and worm combo, consider using a lighter jig head. I often choose a 1/8-oz. head or lighter to target these spawning fish. I will often tip this with a 4-inch worm as opposed to a traditional offering of 6 inches or more. A weightless Jerk Shad from Lanier Baits is a fun and productive bait to fish this time of year. Target the shallows, cover and docks with this rig. Twitch the bait and then allow it to sink slowly. This presentation will draw strikes from actively feeding and spawning fish, as well, and you get to see the strikes! A Georgia Blade Shad Spin is also a good bet this time of year. I like to downsize to a 1/4-oz. model with a small trailer and work the back third of creeks with this bait during the prespawn and just before the fish go on beds. It offers versatility in presentation and depth, a great combo. A traditional Georgia Blade spinnerbait can be a good choice, as well. Swimbaits offer great versatility, as they can be fished at any depth you wish. This is a great bait with which to catch a monster bass just before they spawn. Often, the females will be out just off of the spawning area in slightly deeper water, but they are not far from the beds. Throwing a big 6- or 8-inch swimbait and slow-rolling in these areas just off of spawning flats or around secondary points and docks can entice bites from very big fish. I recommend the Sweet Herring swimbait from Sweet Bait for this tactic. Keep in mind this approach will not garner you many bites on any given day, but the fish you do catch will likely be monsters! Also, a Lanier Baits Swimmer on a jig head fished around rocky and clay points, as well as in pockets, can be a great option for both numbers and big fish. While the spawn can be a challenging time to catch fish, focus on the immediate prespawn period with the tips and baits noted above for some outstanding results! See you on the water!”
Stripers: Capt. Clay Cunningham, of Catching Not Fishing Lake Lanier Fishing Guides, “The striper fishing this past month has been quality over quantity. As we move into April, the stripers will spawn over the course of the next few weeks. As a result, the fish will be on the move and eating. The key over the month of April will be points and flats as the stripers pull up into these areas to feed on shad and herring. Freelines and planer boards will be the key tactics this month. The bait of choice so far has been medium shiners, but it is changing to herring quickly. That being said, some fish are coming on gizzard shad, as well. As a result, be sure to be prepared with a variety of hook sizes and line sizes tied onto different rods. Keep two Shakespeare striper rods with 15-lb. Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon and size one Gamakatsu Octopus hooks for the herring. Then, have at least two rods with 15-lb. Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon and size 5/0 Gamakatsu Octopus hooks or larger for the gizzard shad and tiny No. 4 hooks for the shiners. If they are mongo gizzards, maybe add a Gamakatsu Magic Eye Treble stinger hook. Talk to your local bait shop, like Hammond’s or Oakwood Bait and Tackle, for details on the stinger-hook setup. Pull the bankline on the north end of the lake and in the creeks on the south end. Also, put out planers boards, as well. The Perfect Planer is most popular because it can be used with herring and gizzard shad. Keep the boat around 1 mph. Toward the end of the month, look for the topwater bite to appear, as well. This will be the highlight of the year for those who like to cast. Once the topwater bite starts, rig up a 7-foot, medium-action rod with 12-lb. Trilene Big Game line and be prepared for the stripers to try and take it away from you. Be sure to take a variety of baits, like the Berkley Surge Shad, the Berkley Magic Swimmer and the Berkley Jerk Shad. Every day a different one will be the ticket. The stripers will quickly let you know the right choice. See you on the water.”
Stripers: Capt. Ron Mullins, of The Striper Experience, reports, “The Lake Lanier stripers have started feeding shallow and will continue through April. The Captain Mack’s Perfect Planer Board and flatline bites will continue this month. The best places on the south side of the lake will be in major creeks Young Deer, Six Mile, Four Mile, Big and Flat. On the north side, the river systems will be the places to go. April is spawn time on Lanier for stripers, and the big fish will be eating big baits, 8- to 12-inch gizzard shad or the biggest herring you can find. Pull in 10 to 25 feet of water in these areas. When pulling these bigger baits, run them 15 to 25 feet behind your 10-inch Perfect Planer Boards, and flatline baits using RediRig floats versus balloons to help with the trash problem on Lanier. Running your big baits this close to the board or float will keep your shad or river herring from finding every downed tree or brushpile you will be fishing close to. 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 Captain Mack’s 7-inch Perfect Planer Boards or 75 to 125 feet behind the boat on your flatlines. Later in the day, consider adding a No. 3 to No. 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 cannot get by Oakwood Bait and Tackle or Hammond’s for some herring or shad, then try pulling a Captain Mack’s Mini Mack 15 to 25 feet behind your 10-inch Perfect Planer Boards, depending on the water depth you are fishing. In some of the dirtier water, the Striper Tackle Ultra Pro Spin Shad head in 3/8- or 1/2-oz. will add even more flash to your Mini Mack. The white with white trailers has been great on sunny days, and the candy blue with chartreuse trailers has been better in the dirtiest of water and on cloudy days. This stealth trolling technique will require a bit more speed out of your Minn Kota i-Pilot. Set your cruise control function at 1.2-1.5 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 still be around. While you are pulling down the bank, you should be casting a 1/4-oz. Striper Tackle Pro Swimbait or Ultra Pro Swing jig head with a 3.3-inch Spot Sticker swimbait in herring or albino colors or a white fluke-style bait using a steady retrieve with an Okuma Helios 30 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. April 9 is Easter and the day that we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ our Messiah. He truly is our Messiah and is the Lord of all lords but is also a suffering servant to us all. He died for us so that all of our sins are forgiven, and if we just trust in Him as our Savior, we will have everlasting life. This month is a great time to celebrate spring and to gather with family for egg hunts and cute outfits, but remember the real reason for Easter.”
Crappie: Capt. Josh Thornton reports, “Keep looking shallow, look to the sides of major creeks. I like looking for rock walls and standing timber or blowdowns in the shallow waters to cast to. Trolling is good right now. Look in large shallow bays or coves near a main channel. Crappie love the shade, so cast into the shadows or shaded areas of the dock. When dock shooting, the biggest fish are usually the first to bite. I use ATX Lure Company plastic jigs on Lip Thrashin Lures jig heads. I use 5-lb. test, high-visibility yellow K9 braid for my line unless I am using a bobber, then it’s the K9 6-lb. high-visibility line. I use Garmin Livescope and the Navionics Boating app. Find me on Facebook and like my pages @crappieonlanier and @fishingwitheverydayheroes.”
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