Lake Lanier and Striper Fishing

Written by admin on August 18, 2009
Lake Lanier and Striper Fishing

Lake Lanier is a 38,000-acre reservoir operated by the Corps of Engineers (COE) about 50 miles northeast of Atlanta.

Lanier receives heavy fishing pressure due to its proximity to Atlanta. The most popular species are spotted bass, crappie, striped bass and catfish. Lake level information can be obtained from the COE at 770-945-9531.

Spotted bass are very abundant, in excellent condition, and are putting on weight from the ample supply of blueback herring and threadfin shad. Therefore, anglers should experience another good year catching numerous of 1 to 5 lbs. spotted bass. The largemouth bass population appears to be rebounding from poor spawning success during the past drought years (1998-2002). Based on fish sampling in 2006, the abundance of 1 to 2 lbs. largemouth bass is much improved over the past three years. Spotted and largemouth bass can be caught on night crawlers, crayfish, and bait minnows throughout the year.

Crappie anglers should experience an average year when it comes to numbers. The population of ½ to ¾ lb. fish is stable and these pan-sized fish will be common this year. The heaviest stringers will be produced from late February through April when larger spawning fish are shallow. Top areas for these panfish are the upper Chattahoochee arm (Clarks to Lula Bridge), Thompson, and Taylor Creek.

Lanier anglers can expect another excellent year for striped bass. Angler success during the summer months will depend on oxygen conditions at cooler depths (greater than 25 ft.), the stripers habitat from July through September. The abundant supply of blueback herring, a preferred summer forage of stripers, plays a key role in maintaining a healthy population in Lanier. The lake supports an abundance of small (2 – 10 lbs.) stripers produced from successful stockings from 2003 to 2006. A good supply of 10 – 15 lbs. fish stocked from 2000-2002 will also provide plenty of action. An average number of trophy (20 – 30 lbs.) stripers are in the lake. Both winter (November-March) and summer (July-August) offer excellent striper fishing. Live bait (herring, shiners, bluegill and shad), soft-plastic jerk baits and trolled bucktail jigs will produce the best results.

WRD stocked 114,000 walleye fingerlings in 2005 and 2006 to enhance late winter fishing opportunities during walleye spawning runs up the rivers. WRD fall gill net samples verified that a good number of stocked fish survived. A number of anglers reported catching one-pound walleyes during 2006 in Wahoo Creek and the upper Chattahoochee River arm of the lake. These young walleye will weigh ½ – 2 lbs. in 2007. Adult walleye are few in number but can be caught in the Chattahoochee River near Belton Bridge in February and early March. They migrate in summer to the lower reservoir seeking the cool, oxygenated waters (25 – 40 ft. depths) closer to the dam. Trolling the shoreline with spinners and crankbaits and still fishing nightcrawlers on the bottom at depths of 5 – 30 ft. is an effective method for taking walleye year around. Check out for tips on walleye fishing.

Channel catfish are numerous lakewide and average about 1 lb. Bluegill weighing ¼ – 1/3 lb. can be caught on a regular basis from May through August. Carp are abundant and readily take prepared catfish baits, corn and dough balls from May through August.

In 2007, WRD, State Parks and COE personnel cut and anchored shoreline trees where permitted at two cove locations at the Don Carter State Park property, just below Lula Bridge. These downed shoreline trees will attract crappie, bass and other species for anglers to catch this year. Maps showing the locations of attractor sites can be obtained from the COE office at Lake Lanier (770-945-9531) and the Gainesville WRD office (770-535-5498). A guide to bank fishing opportunities is also available. Some key bank fishing spots include Lanier Point Park, Thompson Creek Park, Little Hall Park and Little River Landing. Buford Dam Park and River Forks Park are two good sites that also are accessible.

It is legal to fish with and possess live blueback herring, a preferred baitfish for stripers on Lanier. Spotted bass and striped bass populations have benefited from the increased food supply of herring. Negative impacts of bluebacks include their ability to out compete other young fish for available food and predation on larval fish, including bass less than 1-inch long. WRD will continue to monitor the impact of this species on sport fish populations.

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