Lake Lanier Fishing Report – May 2020

GON Staff | April 29, 2020

Lanier: Level: 1 foot above full. Temp: Mid to upper 60s. Clarity: Clear except very close to the bank from the boat traffic.

Bass: Tournament angler and guide Ryan Coleman reports, “Fishing is excellent right now all over the lake. Most of the largemouth have spawned or are in the middle of the spawn, and the spotted bass are starting. The spotted bass will continue to spawn through May, and even some main-lake fish will spawn in June. The shallow-water fishing is excellent with spinnerbaits, swimbaits and topwater lures. Working windy points and shorelines with a shad-colored Mini-Me spinnerbait in the Spot C Ducer or Reehmer colors has been excellent all spring on Lanier. Use the painted blades with a trailer hook, and keep it moving. The swimbait fishing has also been great by using a 3.3- or 3.8-inch soft swimbait on a SpotSticker Screwlock Swimbait head in albino, pearl or blueback herring colors. Just slowly reel the swimbait on points and steeper banks with rock. I typically use 12-lb. fluorocarbon line. Keep in contact with your bait at all times. A sweeping hookset is all you need to make sure they get the hook. Lots of good fish have been caught on topwater this week. Working chuggers or walking baits around the shore and on points in 10 to 20 feet of water has been great and will get better as May rolls in. The fish that are either up spawning or the ones that have finished are suckers for a topwater lure on Lanier.”

Stripers: Guide Capt. Clay Cunningham reports, “Lake Lanier has been busy seven days a week. Time for the surface explosions here on Lanier. Nothing better than watching your Berkley Surge Shad wake across the surface and it vanish in a swirl as a striper engulfs it. Spool up a 7-foot medium Abu Garcia Veritas spinning rod paired with a Penn 3000 Conflict with 12-lb. Trilene Big Game line, and you are ready for action. 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. Twitch the J-Walker so it zigzags across the surface. If the fish are wanting a subsurface lure, the Sebile Magic Swimmer is also a great bait. Cast these baits to points and humps across the lake. If you need a more subtle presentation, rig up a 3/8-oz. Berkley Fusion19 swimbait head tipped with a white paddle tail. Live herring on a freeline across these same points and humps will also be a great tactic. Spool up a Penn Fathom II Linecounter 15 series reel with 15-lb. Trilene Big Game and a Shakespeare Ugly Stik Striper Casting 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. 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 it down a little deeper. As the water temperature increases, look for the fish to go deeper.”

Guide Capt. Ron Mullins reports, “The fish are moving back south out of the river systems and from the backs of the main free flowing creeks on the south end of the lake now that the spawn is wrapping up. The key areas that the fish will be looking to feed at will be on herring and shad spawning spots. These will include blow-through areas, rocky points, and marina break walls. Flatlines and Captain Mack’s Perfect Planer boards pulled around these areas will be the ticket. Your flatlines should be 75 to 125 feet behind the boat, and place your lines between 50 and 100 feet behind your planer boards. On sunny days, consider adding about 1/8-oz. of weight to your lines in front of the swivel to get your bait down a few more feet. Worm bullet weights are great for this due to the stream lined silhouette that has less drag. The best bet to use this time of year are herring or small- to medium-sized shad. On the north end of the lake, look for these areas in Wahoo, Little River, Gainesville and Ada creeks and from Laurel Park to Clark’s Bridge on the Chattahoochee side. Taylor, Thompson and a half mile up and down from Toto Creek on the Chestatee side will be where you need to concentrate. Down south, the fish will be on secondary points in Bald Ridge, Shoal, Six Mile and Big Creek and all the marinas in these areas. The topwater bite will begin this month, so make sure you have a Chug Bug, Zara Spook, Redfin or a Captain Mack’s Mini Mack tied on to throw to these spots as you drag your baits over them.”

Crappie: Guide Capt. John McCalpin reports, “Now that the bulk of the spawn is behind us, crappie are returning to docks in good numbers, and populations in open-water brushpiles are beginning to increase. Crappie are biting under docks that are in 17 to 27 feet of water, so use your electronic charts to locate these areas. Downlining small minnows with bb-sized sinker weights attached and jigs are both producing very well. Jig recommendations have shifted again, relying more on hair jigs and less on plastics. Jiffy Jigs JJ20 (bubblegum/chartreuse) and JJ25 (white/chartreuse) in the 1/24-oz. size have been reliable selections. These jigs can be used equally well for short casting, vertical jigging or dock shooting presentations. I’m using 2-lb. test, high-visibility yellow line. This light line has several key characteristics: (1) It allows for longer range when using a dock shooting presentation; (2) It sinks slightly faster than the larger-gauge 4-lb. test line; (3) It’s easier to break off when your jigs get hung. 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 a 2500-series Shimano reel paired with either a B’n’M Sharpshooter Six or a Wally Marshall SpeedShooter 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 May, I expect the crappie to continue the current postspawn pattern by returning first to docks and then to open brushpiles. This transition will occur as the water temperature increases, so be prepared to adjust your strategy accordingly. Watch your sonar carefully for bait, as crappie like to live near their food source. 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.”

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