Lake Lanier Fishing Report – April 2024

GON Staff | March 28, 2024

Lanier: Level: 0.6 feet over 1071. Temp: Upper 50s to low 60s. Clarity: The water clarity is all over the place due to the rain in recent months. That being said, the water clarity is improving daily.

Bass: Guide Jimbo Mathley with 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 during this often-challenging period that offer an alternative to the bed-fishing option. This year we are on par with historical averages in terms of water temperature. The water level has been near or above full pool most of the spring. Depending on weather trends for the remainder of March, the spawn should be in full swing by early to mid April. 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 in waves 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 prefer a hard-bottom-type area, such as a pebble rock/clay flat or sandy pocket. 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. The spots will typically spawn in 6 to 12 feet of water and deeper. Unlike the largemouth, there is 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 where 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 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. 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, based on the model, be fished at any depth you wish. This 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 areas 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 spawning flats or around secondary points and docks can entice bites from very big fish. I recommend the Sweet Herring Swimbait 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, as well. While the spawn can be a challenging time of year to catch fish, focus on the immediate prespawn period with the trips and baits noted above for some outstanding results. See you on the water!”

Lake Lanier Page: Archived Articles, News & Fishing Reports

Stripers: Capt. Clay Cunningham, of Catching Not Fishing Lake Lanier Fishing Guides, reports, “April is a big month on Lanier for striped bass. The stripers will move up both rivers, spawn and work their way back down to the main lake. Since the stripers will be on the move, they will need to eat. The key pattern will be to pull the banks and points with freelines and boards mostly on the north end of the lake. Be sure to use your electronics to spot the fish in these areas. On the Humminbird Side Imaging, you can see the fish on each side of the boat. In the past five years, the electronics have progressed immensely. The best setup is a Shakespeare Striper Rod paired with a Penn Fathom II Linecounter. Spool the Penn Fathom II  Linecounter with 15-lb. Trilene Big Game line. On the end of the line, you will need a fluorocarbon leader. Tie on a Spro Power Swivel and a 5-foot section of 15-lb. Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon and a Gamakatsu 1/0 Octopus hook. Pick up a set of Water Bug Planer Boards and some live herring and you are good to go for the day. If you prefer to use artificials, be sure to pick up some Berkley Jerk Shads in white. You will want to throw this on a Penn Conflict 3000 spooled with 15-lb. Berkley X9 Braid with a 10-lb. fluorocarbon leader on a Fenwick 7-foot medium spinning rod. Pick up a selection of other topwater wake baits, like the Berkley Surge Shad, and walking baits, like the Berkley Cane Walker, and you are good to go. One day the Surge Shad will be best, and another day the Cane Walker will be best. Another good choice is a Captain Mack’s 1/2-oz. bucktail tipped with a Berkley Jerk Shad casting to the bank. April is a great month for casting here on Lanier. Time to be on the water!”

Capt. Ron Mullins with The Striper Experience reports, “The spring striper bite is really getting fired up and Captain Mack’s Perfect Planer Boards and flatlines will be the technique that will catch the most fish in April.  Herring, of any size, and small to medium shad will be your best bait choices this month for numbers of fish. Make sure you match your hook size to your bait size. Fish herring on a No. 2 or No. 1 Gamakatsu Octopus Circle, small shad on a No. 1 or 1/0 and medium gizzards on a 3/0 circle. Using a smaller hook will keep your herring and small shad lively longer since they won’t have to lug around a big chunk of steel. Place your smaller baits 40 to 60 feet out, clip on your Perfect Planer and run the first (outside) set 60 feet from the boat. Repeat with the inside planer set 30 feet away from the boat. Fish flatlines straight behind the boat anywhere from 50 to 100 feet. Adjust the lengths and even add a No. 3 split-shot to figure out where the fish want to eat. There are a lot of fish up both river arms, and they should stay up there through April if we don’t get too many really hard rains. Northern creeks like Thompson, Taylor, Wahoo, Ada, Gainesville and Little River will all be good places to look, as well. At the first of the month, there will still be fish roaming over deep water in the middle of most creeks, but as the water temps warm into the mid 60s, the fish will move to 15 to 30 feet deep on points and humps throughout the lake and up the river arms. April is spawn time on Lanier for stripers, and the big fish will be eating big baits. Pull 8- to 12-inch gizzard shad or the biggest herring you can find. When pulling these bigger baits, the line you have behind your planer boards and flatlines on 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. While you are pulling down the bank or across a point, you should be casting a 3/8-oz. Captain Mack’s white/silver flash Chipmunk Jig or the 1/4-oz. StriperTackle Ultra Pro Swing Head with a blueback herring or albino-colored 3.3-inch SpotSticker Soft Swimbait using a steady retrieve with an Okuma Helios 30 with 15-lb. braid or 10- to 12-lb. mono paired on an Okuma Reflexions 7-2 medium-action rod. As Easter has just passed us, make sure that you remember all that happened 2,000 some odd years ago and His last words. On that day the sun went dark as Jesus Christ was dying on a cross for us. He is the light of the world, and there is no doubt that is why it became dark. The curtain in the temple was also torn. This was always the physical separation between God and man, but with Christ’s death and resurrection, the presence of God is now no longer in a place but is now personal. Jesus’ last words before his death were, ‘Father, into your hands I commit my spirit,’ Luke 23:46. He gave all His trust to his Father, just as we can do, even if the world has failed us. April is an awesome month on Lanier. Get out there and catch ’em up.”

Crappie: Capt. Josh Thornton reports, “Crappie are on the banks spawning, and some can still be found suspended 4 to 15 feet deep under docks. Look for creeks or coves near a main channel for roaming fish. They are shallow in 2 to 4 feet of water. Cast to them or troll for them. Minnows are working well. You may want to try jig colors grey on grey, green and black and green and chartreuse. The gear I recommend for crappie fishing is an ACC Crappie Stix one-piece rod and reel with 6-lb. test  K9 line, along with Garmin Livescope and Power-Pole. For more information and tips, please visit my websites and If you’re interested in trying local crappie tournaments, check out National Crappie League Georgia trail on Facebook for more information.”

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