Lake Lanier

Fishing Lake Lanier


Thirty-five miles northeast of Atlanta, Georgia, lies beautiful Lake Lanier, a man-made lake formed by the Buford Dam, which backs up the Chattahoochee River.  Lake Lanier extends up the Chattahoochee River near the Hall-Habersham County Line and up the Chestatee River to the vicinity of Dahlonega.  At normal level it covers 38,000 acres with 540 miles of shoreline.  A relatively deep lake with an average depth of nearly 60 feet, Lake Lanier has nearly 200 foot depths in the dam area.  Lake Lanier, however, is really a contradiction of a normal thought process. The upper end of this lake would seem to be cooler because it is fed directly by two mountain rivers. In reality, the deeper, clearer, and cooler waters are on the south end of the lake. The lake north of Brown's Bridge is really more like the Georgia lakes farther to the south. The upper end of Lanier contains well-defined river channels and long, flat points that become muddy or stained after any big rain. The lower end of the lake, however, is more like a mountain lake. It is deep and clear with rocky points, underwater ridge tops, and deep drop-offs near the old river channel.

Without the proper knowledge or the help of an expert fishing guide, Lake Lanier can be one of the most difficult lakes to fish in all of the Southeast. The upper end is much more shallow and can be greatly affected by any changes in the weather or lake levels. Also, the lower lake water stratifies, both thermally and chemically during the warmer months, which limits the range of certain fish.

Since Lake Lanier first became full in 1957, The Georgia Game and Fish Commission has experimented with numerous stocking programs, including:

  • Largemouth bass
  • Bluegill
  • Rainbow trout
  • Brown trout
  • Brook trout
  • Walleye
  • Striped bass
  • Crappie

Many other varieties of fish also live in the lake naturally. These include spotted bass, largemouth bass, white bass, crappie, several types of catfish, and many species of panfish, including red-breast sunfish, red-ear sunfish, green sunfish, and warmouth. Longnose gar reach close to four feet in length, and carp over 20 pounds have been landed at Lanier. Thread-fin shad and spottail minnows are the basic food for most fish in the lake, but larger gizzard shad, and blueback herring are also abundant.