Lake Lanier Spotted Bass Of Summer

10 postspawn locations where big, aggressive spots will rocket up from the brush to nail topwater and swimbaits.

Ronnie Garrison | June 13, 2017

If you have visions of big spotted bass smashing topwater plugs, and you’d like to make those visions a reality, head to Lake Lanier this month. The Lanier spots stack up on brushpiles on points and humps, and these mean and feisty bass will rocket to the top to smash topwater lures most days. And if they won’t come all the way to the top, you can catch these main-lake bass on other baits.

Lake Lanier, a 38,000-acre U.S. Army Corps of Engineers lake north of Atlanta on the Chattahoochee River, has a well-deserved reputation for producing magnum spots. The clear, rocky habitat of Lanier has always been ideal for spotted bass, and the introduction of blueback herring provided the perfect open-water, main-lake food source. Although that combination is not going to have the same results on other lakes, it has produced a great fishery on Lanier, particularly for spotted bass.

Jim “Jimbo” Mathley had a good career in the hospitality business, but about seven years ago, he realized he was not content. He decided to guide full time for spots on Lanier and has never regretted it. Over the years, Jimbo has studied the lake, and he’s studied the spotted bass and herring. He is learning how to best catch the quality spots year-round. June is one of his favorite months to fish Lanier.

“The big spots are very predictable on Lanier in June,” Jimbo said.

These postspawn spotted bass on Lanier move to brushpiles on points and humps where they feed on schools of blueback herring. You can fish these main-lake locations and catch bass on a variety of baits, depending on the weather and fish activity that day.

Lake Lanier guide Jimbo Mathley with a beautiful spotted bass caught on an underspin a few weeks ago. Jimbo said the big Lanier spots are very predictable in June.

After the spots spawn, usually completed by May, the bass move to the deep brush and hold in it. Sunny days concentrate them in the brush, but on cloudy days they will be more scattered. It’s no problem to find man-made brushpiles at Lanier. Just about every point and hump has some brush, and most have multiple brushpiles put out by multiple fishermen.

Normally in June, the Lanier spotted bass will hold in brush 15 to 25 feet deep, and that is the depth range where most anglers sunk their brush. This year the lake is low, and those brushpiles are not as deep. Jimbo says he is not sure yet how the low water and more shallow brush will affect the spots, but they will be in the same areas, either concentrated in deeper brush or holding in the shallower brush.

Everyone loves to see a 3-lb. or better spot slash at a topwater plug. Jimbo says the perfect day for topwater is a bright, sunny day with enough wind to create at least a ripple and up to a chop on the surface. Fortunately, many June days meet those requirements.

Jimbo is very specific on how he fishes the brushpiles. He has marked hundreds of brushpiles on his Lowrance HDS units and can approach them knowing exactly where they are. He has the range rings on his GPS turned on, so he knows exactly how far he is from them, and his Point One antennae will lock on the waypoint he wants to hit. He will stop about 150 feet from the brush and ease up within casting distance on his trolling motor.

Knowing exactly where the brush is located is so important that Jimbo recommends you ride several points to mark the brush, and then go back in an hour or so to fish them. You can use a good GPS to line them up like Jimbo does or do it the old-fashioned way by lining up visible markers on the bank.

“I want the first indication the spot has that anything is going on is a big topwater plug splashing right over its head,” Jimbo said.

That first cast is important. He will approach close enough to cast about 10 feet past the brushpile and work his topwater bait across the brush. Two or three casts by him or his clients is enough to tell if the spots are there and want a topwater bait.

It is best if that first cast is made by one person and other fishermen in the boat wait to see if one hits. Jimbo say if a spot hits, there are usually others with it, but the second or third person has only eight to 10 seconds to put a bait right where the hooked fish is fighting, so they do not have time to reel in and cast. It is better to wait.

Many times when a spot hits, the whole area will suddenly explode with topwater schooling action. That is so common. It seems the other fish in the area are watching the herring, just waiting on one of their school mates to start the feeding spree. It is not unusual for Jimbo and his clients to all hook up at the same time.

Jimbo will move a lot from location to location, spending only five or six minutes on most holes and fishing more than 40 different places a day. If he gets a hit on top or sees bass following his bait, he will take time to pick apart the water column to see what depth they will hit.

That’s when his other baits come into play. He will switch to a bait working in or 3 feet deep first for a few casts then slowly work deeper baits until he is ticking the brush itself.

To cover the water from top to bottom, Jimbo will have a Chug Bug, Spook or Vixen topwater in chrome, bone or shad colors. He also likes a Sweet Herring or Sebile hard swimbait, a Keitech or similar soft swimbait, and a Super Spin underspin rigged. At times, a jerkbait or spinnerbait will also work.

Some days the bass just do not want to chase a moving bait, and as a last resort, Jimbo will use a jig or drop-shot worm to tempt them. However, he seldom has to resort to these finesse-style baits when fishing Lake Lanier in June.

Jimbo fishes all his baits on G Loomis rods with Shimano reels spooled with Segar line.

Jimbo took me to the following 10 spots in early May. The bass were just moving to these offshore locations, since there were still some herring spawning shallow. We caught some fish on these June locations. Jimbo picked me up at Vanns Tavern ramp in his aluminum Xpress boat pushed by a 250 Yamaha Sho, which handled the rough water well and provided a nice dry ride on windy day.

No. 1: N 34º 13.270 – W 83º 59.736 — Look for an island near the mouth of Two Mile Creek with channel marker 2TM on it. Back toward the cove side, a danger marker sits on a clay and rock hump on a long point. There are multiple brushpiles on this point, and Jimbo’s side scan showed three as we eased up to it. With the lake about 8 feet low the day we fished, this brush was in 12 to 20 feet of water. This is a good example of the typical June place Jimbo fishes.

If you know where the brush is located, ease in and make your first cast with a topwater plug past the brush and fish over it. Spots will come up from surprisingly deep water some days to hit on top, so don’t hesitate to work topwater over brush as deep as 25 feet. Work other baits down the water column until you tick the brush, too.

No. 2: N 34º 12.821 – W 84º 00.985 — Go into the mouth of Six Mile Creek though the gap at 1TM and 2TM markers. The actual Six Mile channel is on the other side of the big island there. As you go into the creek, a small rocky island is on your right. It has multiple brushpiles on the point coming off it, and it drops into deep water—one of the most important factors in making a point good for Lanier spotted bass in the summer.

Jimbo will fish this entire point after covering the brushpiles, especially on overcast days when the fish are more scattered. Roaming fish will come up to hit topwater, and they will also hit a swimbait or underspin. Jimbo said he landed a big spot here on a swimbait the week before we fished together.

No. 3: N 34º 11.903 – W 84º 02.531 — Going down the lake, Shady Grove ramp is on a point on your right. It’s just upstream of a big bay. On the downstream side of the bay, a big island has green channel marker 9 on the river side. A big, clay point comes out just before you get to the marker. It has several brushpiles on it.

As we stopped here so I could get notes and a picture, and a fish swirled on top. Jimbo jumped up, picked up his Chug Bug, and cast to it before the rings had gone more than a couple of feet, and he caught a 3-lb. spot.

Jimbo said he is always ready to fire a fast cast to any topwater action. He makes sure he has good line on his reel, that his plug is ready with sharp hooks, and that his reel is tuned the night before every trip. Being ready like that can make the difference between a fast cast that produces a hit and a cast to empty water. These spotted bass move fast when they’re chasing bait on top.

No. 4: N 34º 11.714 – W 84º 03.616 — Look for an island on the left as you go into the mouth of Young Deer Creek. Channel marker 1YD is on it, and there’s also a danger marker. There are a lot of brushpiles off this island, and it drops off fast into deep water. Fish over and through the brush with a variety of baits.

As we idled away from this point, I noticed a lot of standing timber in the deeper water and asked Jimbo if standing timber helped. He said there was standing timber in almost all the deep water at Lanier.

No. 5: N 34º 10.639 – W 84º 04.380 — Sawnee Campground is on a long rocky point on the left side of the mouth of Bald Ridge Creek. It has channel marker 1BR on it. This point has brushpiles, and it is in the mouth of a creek—factors that are common with most good June locations for catching Lanier spotted bass.

Fish over the brush first, then try a hard or soft swimbait, jerkbait or underspin running 2 to 3 feet deep, especially if fish come up for a look but don’t take your topwater. If that does not work, let your soft swimbait and underspin drop down to the next level 4 to 6 feet deep. Fish them deeper until you find the depth the fish are willing to hit that day. Some days you will need to tick the tops or sides of the brush, so it is important to know exactly how deep the brush is and how it lays to keep hang-ups to a minimum.

No. 6: N 34º 11.252 – W 84º 04.417 — Going into Bald Ridge Creek, look for marker 3BR that sits on a long shallow point on the left. There are three red ball markers on it that mark a very shallow ridge running off the point. This is a great location to find schooling spotted bass in the summer.

Jimbo says to run a swimbait over the very shallow water after trying topwater. Often the area where the bottom disappears from view as it drops off is where the bass hold, so make sure your bait covers this transition area on each cast.

No. 7: N 34º 10.897 – W 83º 59.785 — Across the lake, Big Creek comes in just upstream of Lake Lanier Islands. Holiday Marina is on the right going in. On the left, channel marker 3BC sits on a long point. Just downstream of the channel marker on the lake side, a shallow clay point runs out from the main point.

A hard bottom is important, and clay or rocks are both good if there is brush on them. This point has brush, and it holds fish. It is also in the mouth of a creek and drops off fast into deep water, all good indicators of the type place you want to fish. Run all your baits on this point.

No. 8: N 34º 11.341 – W 83º 57.796 — Go into Flowery Branch past the point with Chestnut Ridge Park on your right. On a line between channel markers 4FB and 6FB, a danger marker sits on a hump on the end of a long point. There are big rocks on this point and brush to hold bass.

Fish all around this point, working the brushpiles first, and then running your baits over the big rocks where the bottom disappears. Jimbo said he had a big spotted bass follow his swimbait here a day or so before we fished, but it did not hit. Some bass were on these places already when we fished, and many more bass will be here by June.

No. 9: N 34º 11.618 – W 83º 57.547 — Across the creek, there’s a big clay point just upstream of Aqualand Marina. Channel marker 5FB is off this shallow point. An old roadbed comes up onto this point, and the point is flat on the downstream side but drops off quickly into the creek channel on the upstream side.

Concentrate fishing the brush on the upstream side where it drops off faster, but also watch for schooling fish all over the point. Be ready for a fast cast if you see any activity while you are working the brushpiles.

No. 10: N 34º 13.157 -W 83º 57.670 — Old Federal Campground is on the big point between Chattahoochee Bay and Mud Creek. Two points form a small bay out on the end of the point, and channel marker 1OC is on the creek upstream arm of it. Out from this arm, toward the main lake, a point runs out shallow and has brush on it.

Fish this point like the others. Since it is more of a main-lake point, but still at the mouth of a creek, it will continue to reload with bass throughout the month.

All these places hold spotted bass right now, as do almost countless other similar places on Lanier. Check out Jimbo’s patterns and baits, and then use them to find other similar places.

Jimbo can be contacted for a guide trip at, or by calling him at (770) 542-7764, and you can find him on Facebook by searching for Jimbo on Lanier.

Click here to watch a video clip of Lake Lanier guide Jimbo Mathely rolling a 4-lb. Lake Lanier spotted bass while fishing a Chug Bug during the herring spawn last month.


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