Lake Lanier Fishing Reports – May 2023

GON Staff | April 26, 2023

Lanier: Level: Full at 1071. Temp: 63-69 degrees. Clarity: The water clarity varies from clear on the main lake to slightly stained farther north in the river systems but will get muddy up the rivers and in the backs of the creeks with the storms that move through in May.

Bass: Jimbo from Jimbo’s Lake Lanier Spotted Bass Guide Service reports, “Lake Lanier is arguably at its very best during the late spring and early summer due to the consistent availability of an aggressive topwater and swimbait bite during this time. This is an excellent opportunity for anglers to catch spotted bass and watch the action as wolf-packs of monster spotted bass chase your topwater plugs. In this month’s installment, you will learn the necessary tackle, equipment, locations and resources to catch topwater fish on Lanier. Now, at the end of April and heading into May under normal weather conditions, most of the spotted bass on Lake Lanier are finishing the spawn, and in doing so, will begin aggressively feeding to recover from the spawning process. After a short period of inactivity, the larger female spots will begin their migration from their spawning haunts (both in creeks as well as on the main lake) to key features at the mouths of the major creeks, as well as main-lake areas and can be found on or around long-running points, rocky shoals and underwater humps/islands throughout the lake. Locating these areas and the man-made cover that is often found on them, which will often concentrate the fish, will be important to your success. Trust your Humminbird units to find these brushpiles around the features mentioned above. Focus in the 20- to 25-foot depth range. For topwater action, you should utilize either a medium or medium-heavy baitcasting or spincasting outfit rigged with 12- to 17-lb. monofilament line. Monofilament fishing line floats, whereas fluorocarbon line sinks, which makes either monofilament or braided line the best option for presenting topwater baits correctly. Also, Seaguar Smackdown braid floats and is also a good option for topwater if you prefer. As far as choosing a rig for fishing these topwater baits, consider the weight of the bait as your deciding factor. Lighter poppers and smaller walking baits are often better presented on spinning gear, which allows for easier casting of smaller baits. For swimbaits, I like to present the larger, heavier, mechanical-type swimbaits (Sweet Herring Swimbait) on a heavy-action rod that is at least 7 feet long. My big swimbait rod is an IMX Pro from G-Loomis and is a beef stick! It can handle the biggest of swimbaits or A-rigs. I appreciate the extra rod strength to cast these big baits and manage the big fish I catch on them.  As far as the many other soft and hard swimbait options, you can scale back to a medium-heavy rod if you prefer, but I recommend keeping the length at 7 feet or more. Now that we have explored the location that the spots can be found in May, as well as the tackle necessary to fish them, let’s examine some of the techniques and lures that can be used to catch these fish. Remember that even though we are discussing topwater and swimbait presentations in this report, when the females first come off the bed, they are lethargic, so the use of more subtle techniques such as a fluke or a Georgia Blade jig head and a Berkley Max Scent worm combo can be the ticket. As the postspawn period progresses, the fish will become much more active and aggressive as eating becomes a major part of their recovery process from the spawn. The fish at times will feed voraciously, and it is at these times when you should focus on fast-moving baits, such as the topwater and swimbait presentations we have focused on through the course of this article. There are many choices of baits here—poppers, walkers, waking baits, etc. The preference of the fish will change day to day, so make sure to experiment daily to identify the mood of the fish, as well as their preference in presentation. Excellent topwater baits for Lake Lanier include a great lineup of Berkley Baits: Surge Shad, J-Walker, Highjacker, Cane Walker, and the Chopo. All of these lures, as well as all the G-Loomis rods and Shimano reels you will need to present them, can be purchased at local tackle shops such as Hammond’s Fishing in Cumming. Swimbaits offer great versatility as they can, based on the model, be fished at any depth you wish.  Once the postspawn has advanced, this becomes a great bait to throw around points and humps in both creeks and on the main lake. Popular hard and soft swimbaits are made by a number of different tackle vendors, to include many local options. As far as the mechanical type swimbaits, I am a HUGE fan of the Lanier Baits Magic Swimmers, and they are the perfect representation of a herring. In the soft-bodied swimbaits, I prefer the Lanier Baits Swimmer and Keitech Swimbait offerings. When the topwater/swimbait bite is tough, pick up your Georgia Blade Shad Spin and go to work. Fish the same areas you would normally present your topwater baits and experiment with different depths of the water column. Also, work these lures over brush for big spots. Try a Lanier Baits Jerk Shad, a Lanier Baits Swimmer or Keitech swimbait as a trailer.”

Lake Lanier Page: Archived Articles, News & Fishing Reports

Stripers: Capt. Ron Mullins, of The Striper Experience, reports, “The striped bass spawn is mostly over and the majority of the fish are moving back south out of the river systems and the backs of the main free-flowing creeks on the south end of the lake. There will still be a few fish spawning the first few weeks of May, so don’t completely disregard the river bite, as those fish will hang out up the river arms until the end of May. This month is one of our kitchen sink months as you will be able to catch stripers with every technique that we mention throughout the year. Flatlines, planer boards, downlines, pitching, u-rigs and stealth trolling will all be used this month. Heck, they will all be used on the same day most of the month. At the beginning of the month, look for fish on rocky points and humps that the herring and shad will be spawning on through mid-May. Flatlines and Captain Mack’s Perfect Planer boards will be the ticket pulled over these areas. Your flatlines out the back of the boat should be 75 to 125 feet behind the boat, and place your lines between 50 to 75 feet behind your planer boards. Early in the morning, it will probably be best to fish without any weight on these lines, but as the sun gets up, try adding a No. 5 split-shot or two to get your bait down a bit. Best bets on bait this time of year are herring or small- to medium-sized shad. On the north end of the lake, you should be able to find fish around these bait-spawning areas in Wahoo, Little River, Gainesville and Ada creeks on the Chattahoochee side and Thompson, Taylor and Latham on the Chestatee side. Down south, the fish will be on secondary points in Bald Ridge, Young Deer, Two Mile and Big Creek. These main-lake points will also be great areas to stop on with your Minn Kota Ulterra. Spot-Lock your boat in 30 to 40 feet of water and pitch your herring up to 5 to 15 feet of water using a 7-foot medium-action Okuma Reflections spinning rod paired with an Okuma Helios 40 class reel loaded with 15-lb. braid with a 3- to 4-foot 12-lb. fluorocarbon leader attached to a No. 2 Gamakatsu circle hook. You will use lots of herring doing this, so make sure you load up the tank and get that oxygen system cranked up this month to keep all that bait lively. While you are sitting on these points, make sure you drop down a couple of downlines to about 5 feet from the bottom. The stripers will be running up and down the point, and you will catch them with the downrod on their way out. The topwater bite will also crank up this month, so make sure you have a Chug Bug, Zara Spook or Red Fin tied on to throw to the points and humps you are targeting as you approach them. Toward the end of the month, the stripers will begin stacking up in the pockets close to these points, and moving around slowly on the trolling motor with a spread of downlines will be the better technique, especially later in the morning or afternoon. May is a great month to fish Lanier, and you will use every rod on the boat. In 1519, Cortez landed in Mexico and burned his ships. He forced his troops to be all in and realize there was no retreat. There was no Plan B. As Christians, we need to be all in and know there is no retreat, as well. It will make us uncomfortable, but as we follow Jesus Christ, we must let the Lord lead. When we do that and are obedient in the ordinary things in our lives, we will see His work in our lives. Then the doors for the Gospel will be opened for those around us who need to hear it.”

Capt. Clay Cunningham, of Catching Not Fishing Lake Lanier Fishing Guides, “We are finally getting some better weather here on Lake Lanier. It feels like it has been raining for months. The stripers are finishing up spawning, and topwater time is here. The fish are looking to eat. Nothing better than watching your Berkley Surge Shad wake across the surface and it vanish as a striper engulfs it. Spool up a 7-foot, medium-heavy Abu Garcia Veritas PLX spinning rod paired with a Penn 3000 Conflict with 12-lb. Trilene Big Game line and you are ready for action. If you want a longer cast, spool up with 10-lb. line. Several baits will be needed for casting to the stripers. You will need a wake bait like the Berkley Surge Shad and a walking bait like the Berkley J-Walker. Look for the bone color and the chrome-black-back color and you have the two primary colors in the J-Walker and Surge Shad. Twitch the J-Walker  so it zigzags across the surface. Once you catch one on a walking bait, you will be hooked on topwater stripers for life. If the fish are wanting a subsurface lure, the Berkley Magic Swimmer is the primary bait. The chrome Magic Swimmer is hard to beat. Cast these baits to points and humps across the lake and be prepared for some explosive action. If you need a more subtle presentation, rig up a 3/8-oz. Berkley Fusion swimbait head tipped with a white paddletail. Every day is different in the spring. Just because it worked yesterday does not mean it will work the next day. Keep all options of lures tied on and rotate through them. Live herring on a freeline across these same points and humps will also be a great tactic. This is the old reliable technique. Spool up a Penn Fathom II Linecounter 15 series reel with 15-lb. Trilene Big Game and a Shakespeare Striper Series rod and you are ready for live-bait fishing. Be sure to pick up some Gamakatsu 2/0 Octopus hooks, some Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon and some Spro Power Swivels for your leaders, and you are all set. Pull these freelines across these areas at about 1 mph. As the water temperature increases, do not be afraid to add a little weight to the freeline to get down a little deeper. As the water temperature increases, look for the fish to go deeper. May should be great weather and great fishing. It is a great month to be on the water before the summer heat. The fish are much bigger than last year. See you on the water. Stay safe.”

Crappie: Capt. Josh Thornton reports, “Crappie are still shallow, so check blowdowns in shallow water. Look for shallow docks less than 15 feet deep. The crappie are suspending underneath less than 10 feet deep. Dark-color jigs are working well. I prefer black with a chartreuse tail or a solid dark purple jig. Minnows under a bobber set at 3 to 4 feet deep have been working well. Crappie love the shade so cast into the shadows or shaded areas of docks. 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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