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Lake Lanier Fishing Report: Stripers are biting at different depths

POSTED: July 7, 2011 4:59 p.m.

Lake temperatures have held steady in the mid 80s. The lake level is at 3 1/2 feet below full pool at 1,067.5 feet.

Lake Lanier is clear to stained from the main lake and clear to stained in the creeks and the rivers. Check generation schedules before heading out to the river at 770-945-1466.

Bass fishing has been good. There have been a bunch of people and boats out enjoying this great resource that exists in our backyard.

Boat traffic on busy summer weekends often gets the waves rocking and the wake often stirs up mud lines on the banks. These mud lines are often bass magnets because the bait fish go after plankton that is stirred up by the wakes, and the bass follow the bait fish.

We have caught some really nice spotted bass out on the main lake where the boat traffic was at its busiest.

Bass relating to bait and mud lines are usually feeding aggressively and they often attack moving lures like topwater plugs, medium- to deep-diving crank baits and other moving lures that mimic blueback herring or threadfin shad.

We have been out directly in some of the roughest water and are catching good fish on a variety of lures. My SPRO Dawg 125 has some major tooth marks on it from topwater fish that are hitting well in the mornings and at certain active feeding times during the day.

Many anglers, including me, will get away the from main lake and look for quiet waters back in the creeks or up in the rivers. We caught some pretty good numbers of spotted bass with a couple largemouths caught in the back of Flat Creek, Little River and Wahoo Creek.

The one thing I look for is deep water that is close by.

If there is not a channel at least 50 feet around, then I will usually target a different area. That being said, there can be bass shallow at all times of the year.

I have witnessed big spotted bass attacking brim in water that was less than five-feet deep by a main lake marina, so keep an open mind and you may find a secret spot.

My lure of choice remains the drop shot rig.

I have targeted man-made brush and steep rocky banks from 15-to 35-feet deep.

The bigger spotted bass have been down deeper in that 25-to 35-foot range and I expect they will remain there for the rest of the summer, except for brief feeding periods during the day and at dusk and dawn.

I use soft plastics like a 4 1/2-inch Big Bites Cane Stick, but finesse worms and even a small plastic lizard will also work.

I like the Cane Stick because I feel it mimics the native spot tail minnows that Lake Lanier's bass like so much. When fishing brush, remember that a short drop leader will help to prevent snags with your drop shot rig.

Finesse worms rigged on a jig head will also work well in these deeper brush piles.

Deep diving cranks baits worked around structure and cover will catch some big bass this time of year. Dig these deep divers into the bottom and slow roll them through brush.

If your lure doesn't get hung up every now and then, you may need to get in closer to the brush or the bank.

Fish Head Spins and even a SPRO Bucktail worked around the brush piles have been working well. Native spot tail minnows on a down line or drop shot rig with Gamakatsu Circle hooks will almost guarantee you a great day.

Stripers: The deepwater patterns prevail on Lake Lanier and two methods are working best.

The first is a down line with a lively blueback herring, and the second method is trolling larger buck tail jigs, while watching your electronics for the larger schools of stripers that will eat your live bait.

My summer reports will often have the same general advice, but this is a good thing because consistent patterns equal consistent catching.

Because the stripers stay deep in summer, this allows for novice and professional anglers alike to fine tune their fishing set ups.

Use a medium-to medium-heavy rod with a light tip. This set up will allow the stripers to take your bait instead of using a stiff rod that may miss the strike because it has no give.

Many anglers use braided line and a fluorocarbon leader. You can use monofilament as your main line and I think it will increase your hook-up ratio because regular monofilament has a good deal of give or stretch, which allows the stripers to get hooked.

I also suggest that you leave your rod in the rod holder before starting to reel.

When the rod is bent over hard, then it's time to start reeling. I recommend using Gamakatsu Circle Hooks so that you can release the fish unharmed.

Unlike regular straight-shanked hooks, Circle hooks will stick the fish by themselves so you don't need to set the hook hard. Just let the stripers pull the rod down, then start reeling.

The stripers have been anywhere from 30-to 80-feet deep. In fact, some of the schools of fish that I am seeing on my 998c graph are almost blacking out the screen from 30-feet on down to the bottom.

When you see these large schools, then drop downlined herring right above where the fish appear on your graph.

If the stripers are thick, then experiment with the depth at which you place your rods. I always try to keep my baits up higher because stripers often move up to strike a lure, but they seldom move down.

Sometimes even though there are fish showing up on the graph at 30-feet, then active fish may be deeper. Try power-reeling your live baits or a SPRO Bucktail up through the schools to get a reaction bite.

Trolling large SPRO Bucktails on lead core or with a Cannon Down Riggers at 20-to 35-feet deep has been working well for anglers who are proficient with this type of fishing.

Often, guides will troll around while looking for the larger schools that will hit live bait. Troll at a speed of 1 1/2-to 3-miles per hour.

There have been few reports of catching striper after dark, but I suspect some anglers are doing well with this method.

Set out a Hydro Glow light and down line herring at the level where you mark fish on your graph.

Crappie fishing is slow, but some anglers are still catching these tasty fish. The crappie are relating to brush piles around docks in 10-to 30-feet deep.

The trick to catching these inactive fish is to trigger a reaction bite. Try working a Micro Spoon or a crappie jig tipped with a live minnow, and work it slow through the brush.

You will get snagged from time to time, but that is when you know you are fishing at the right speed.

Target these same docks and also around the bridge pilings and make sure to use lights or target the dock that have lights on after dark.

Trout fishing is actually pretty good for summer. I spoke with some anglers that were floating from the dam down to Settles Bridge and most said they had caught their limits in the first hour of fishing.

The best bite occurs in the mornings, but the cold water from below the dam creates air conditioning for those hot summer floats.

The creeks up in the Wildlife Management Areas are holding good fish and the recent afternoon rains have helped to increase to oxygen level, which in turn activates the fish into feeding better.

Live bait - where permitted by law - and other lures like Rooster Tails or Yo Suri Pins Minnows or dry and wet flies have all been working well when you are around active trout.

Bank Fishing: Sometimes it is best to just listen to what the fish are telling us.

You can catch several species of fish from the banks of Lake Lanier and also in the river and creeks that flow into and out of the lake. Sometimes it is best just to use what nature provides and let the fish determine what is biting.

One of the most productive and popular bait is an earth worm. You can dig up around gardens or mulch piles and usually get as many worms as you will need. Local tackle shops also carry a variety of worms from large night crawlers on down to the red wigglers.

Thread these worms on to a light wire hook and place a 1/8-to 1/4-ounce split shot weight above your hook and cast it out into deeper water and secure your rod.

You can catch brim, crappie, bass, catfish and even carp with this method. It is also a great method for kids to use, because when they get bored they can just set the rod in the holder and run around and play.

They will often catch the most fish while the rod sits still.

Eric Aldrich is an outdoor writer, marketing specialist and bass angler. Reports are based on personal experience and permission from a close network of friends. Contact him at esaldrich@yahoo.com or visit his website at
aldrichfishing.com.

 



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