As I write this, the pattern on Lake Lanier is changing. The water temps are getting warmer as the days get longer and the fish get deeper. By late May the fish relate to deeper water as well as cruising around in 20 to 35 foot depths. Fish are starting to group up and prepare for the warmer months. Small through teenagers tend to work together on schools of bluebacks and shad on main lake humps and points. Some of the ways to target these late spring fish include just about every tactic in the arsenal. Planer boards will still work, especially in the early morning and late evening. I would use bluebacks out on the main lake and gizzards up the rivers. This time of year if I’m using planer boards with herring, I like to use a quarter to half ounce egg sinker at the swivel to get the bait down into the strike zone. Downlines work well as the fish start relating to deeper areas. As the spring rains subside and the lake water clears, you may want to size down those flourocarbon leaders to 12-15 lb test and be sure to paint those 2 ounce sinkers a flat color to cut down on the window shoppers. One thing I really like to do this time of year is drifting or slow trolling downlined bluebacks on main lake humps in the late evening till shortly after dark.
If you can fish a point that is holding fish early in the morning, pitching a blueback up to a point on spinning gear is a good way to catch a late spring striper mixing in with the spotted bass. Put a little split shot a couple of feet up from the bait to help get the bait down and help with longer casts. U-rigs will work better and better as we get into June. Groups of fish on main lake humps will be a great target for using u-rigs. Two of my favorite colors are white and chartuese. Four arm, two ounce, 20 inch u-rig frame rigged up with 1/2 to 3/4 ounce bucktails with or without curltail trailers will work fine. Since most of the fish will be in 20-30 feet of water you can run your rigs 75-100 feet behind the boat at around 3.0 mph. This should get the rigs into the strike zone.
Early to late summer is a favorite time to fish Lanier for me. This is the time when I start putting away the bulk of my live bait gear and start concentrating on artificials. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll still be hauling around a few bluebacks to drop on a active bunch of stripers on a couple downlines. In june, one of my favorite tactics is to locate active schools trolling 1/2 to 3/4 ounce bucktails on my downriggers. The 2 basic colors work well for this application. When I find an active school, if the artificals aren’t working well I go to the downlined herring. U-rigs are peaking out during June as the fish are spending the last of early summer on the humps. I think we”ll start seeing fish moving closer and closer to the river channel and the bite will work it’s way south more and more through mid to late June. Using curltails on your artificials is a good option for trolling bucktails on the downriggers and on the u-rigs. As the summer progresses, the fish will start committing to paddletails more so than curltails.
Typically, this is the time of year when just about any tactic may work. With a few stray frontal systems still dropping into our area, during these periods of changing barometric pressure fishing just about any pattern will work in pre and post front conditions.