Fly Fishing for Spotted Bass on Lake Lanier Georgia

by | Jun 14, 2018 | fly fishing Georgia | 3 comments

For the most part, my season of delivering fly fishing seminars at shows and clubs ends early April.  My income shrinks but I fish like a mad man so I think I’ll live.  That being said, I welcome gigs anytime of year and thanks to my friend Michael Williams, founder of Nomadic Waters, I find myself down here in Georgia on a mini speaking tour.


Today before my evening gig at Cohutta Fishing Company in Cartersville, GA, I fished Lake Lanier with Michael and another friend, Henry Cowen.  Henry is a well-known guide on Lake Lanier but has also been involved in the fly fishing industry for many years teaching seminars and designing flies.  Henry fired up his Honda outboard and we headed down the massive Lake Lanier.


Lake Lanier is famous for striped bass fishing but the stripers are deep this time of year so our target was spotted bass.  To the average angler spotted bass look like largemouth bass but they’re actually a different species.  They have smaller mouths and are also recognized by a tooth patch you can feel on the tongue that largemouth don’t have.


Henry watched his GPS and showed me the contour of the lake.  The surface water averages over 80°.  Because of the hot temps rather than fish the warm water along the banks you prowl the deep where the water is cooler.  Henry stopped his boat over a shoal about 25 feet deep.  “Start popping”, he said.


Fishing the open lake for bass was unique to me.  Fishing poppers in 25 feet of water was weird.  Furthermore, Henry instructed us not to hesitate between pops.  The hesitation is a standard everywhere I’ve ever bass fished.  Henry explained the difference is that we’re imitating shad and the bass feed voraciously up top then quickly leave back to the cool temps down deep.


The air was hotter than the water and seemed as humid as the Amazon.  Luckily such weather is welcome to me. Michael and I kept casting and popping and enjoying the gorgeous scenery.  Henry kept moving us to different spots but after and hour or more without a sighting of a fish I could see he was disappointed.  Plain and simple though, it was just one of those days.  I asked if I could break out some streamers on the sinking line.  Henry agreed it was a good idea.


Naturally as soon as I went deeper the fish started busting on top.  It was a school of spotted bass acting like stripers attacking shad.  I launched my streamer rig while at the same time Michael hit the action with the popper.  No luck for either of us and the fish returned to the deep.


The feeding frenzy didn’t end however.  At least once every few minutes the fish returned to the top.  Usually they were out of reach or went back down before we could get off a cast but finally I hit the action head on.  A few fast strips then I hooked and landed the first spotted bass of the trip.


The bass continued to tease us for the remainder of the morning and we got good at predicting where the next blitz would take place. Michael and I landed our flies on top of them many times but we only hooked up two more times.  Spotted bass rarely excess 4lbs but the next one I caught was a beauty.


Its incredible to have friends all over the place that are generous enough to take me fishing.  Special thanks go out to Michael for having me down here in Georgia to speak and to Henry for taking a day from his busy schedule to take us on Lake Lanier.


I just finished giving my talk, “Fly Fishing in and Around Jackson Hole” at the Cohutta Fishing Company.  There was a great group of folks, many whom I met last time I presented here.  Thanks Cohutta for having me and to those who came.


Tomorrow this fun trip continues with an attempt to add a new species before tomorrow nights gig at Unicoi Outfitters in Helen, Georgia.  Stay tuned!


Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing


  1. Gary Bulla

    Well now- being with Michael, Henry and Andy (owner of Cohutta, I would say you are in the best of company. Lucky you!

  2. Jeff

    Gary you are not wrong – what a blast it was!

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I started fly fishing at age 7 in the lakes and ponds of New England cutting my teeth on various sunfish, bass, crappie and stocked trout. I went to Northland College in Ashland, Wisconsin, where I graduated with a Naturalist Degree while I discovered new fishing opportunities for pike, muskellunge, walleyes and various salmonids found in Lake Superior and its tributaries.

From there I headed west to work a few years in the Yellowstone region to simply work as much as most people fish and fish as much as most people work. I did just that, only it lasted over 20 years working at the Jack Dennis Fly Shop in Jackson, WY where I departed in 2009. Now it’s time to work for "The Man", working for myself that is.

I pursue my love to paint fish, lecture on every aspect of fly fishing you can imagine and host a few trips to some of the most exotic places you can think of. My ultimate goal is to catch as many species of fish on fly possible from freshwater to saltwater, throughout the world. I presently have taken over 440 species from over 60 countries!