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Lake Lanier Fishing Report: Bass are biting hard in afternoon heat

POSTED: July 14, 2011 4:39 p.m.

Lake Lanier temperatures are in the upper 80s and the lake is clear to stained on the main lake and slightly stained in the rivers.

The lake level is at 3.8 feet below full pool at 1,067.2. Check generation schedules before heading out to the river at 770-945-1466.

Bass fishing has been good, especially considering the hot weather. The bass have been active most of the day and we have witnessed some great schooling action on the surface during the hottest parts of the day.

Start out the morning with a topwater plug and keep it in reach all day as there have been some really good fish schooling on the surface.

The spotted bass are chasing both blueback herring and spot tail minnows on the main lake and back into the creeks.

My Nitro Z8 has really been getting a workout as I am running and gunning trying to find the areas with active fish. During the week we may roll into a cove or creek to find fish busting bait on the surface.

I noticed that this topwater action seems to die off after we have been in that area for about 15 minutes, but there is a secret. When a jet ski or other water crafts travel around our brush piles the fish appear to activate and come to the surface.

Most bass anglers want the lake all to themselves, but I've found myself wishing that a boat would go by so that the fish would start chasing bait. On some occasions, we would crank up the 250 Mercury and run it in circles over an area to get the bait stirred up so that the bass would chase our lures.

Once the fish appear on top, you can catch them with a variety of surface and subsurface lures. The spotted bass are hitting the smaller plugs a little better, but we caught them on just about anything that we threw.

Timing is most important because you need to get a lure to the active fish.

We have caught them on Fish Head Spins, SPRO Dawg 100s, Little John MDs and Roostertails this week, but they should hit just about any minnow imitating a plug.

The most important thing is to get a lure into the schools of bass as soon as they appeared.

Make sure to cast lures to where the brush piles or rocks are located before moving in closer to vertically work these honey holes. I like to cast a SPRO Dawg or a Little John DD directly over the brush.

If you don't find schooling fish, then try the old reliable methods and fish brush piles or dropoffs around 20-to 30-feet deep.

Try a Cane Stick in pumpkin green with a pearl belly on your drop shot or finesse jig head. Remember to shorten your drop leader on your drop shot rig when working thick brush as this will help to prevent snags.

The fish will strike these drop shot worms on the fall as you work your worm over the branches.

Rocky areas close to deeper water will often hold bass even if there is no brush. If all else fails, then try catching native spot tail minnows.

Then set these out on a flat line for schooling bass or hook the spot tails through the lips and drop them down to the brush on a drop shot rig.

You can catch these native minnows with a minnow trap or a cast net. Just a handful of grits will pull these minnows up closer to the shore where you can catch them.
Stripers are biting well in the deeper water and this pattern should hold out for the next month or two.

The key for success with downlining bluebacks is to keep them lively throughout the fishing day. This may seem to be a task, but the proper mixture of salt, ice and oxygen is crucial to keep your bait alive and kicking when air temperatures approach 90.

I have seen many times when several boats are over fish, but only one is catching them. If you see fish on the screen but they are not biting your bait, then it may be time to make an adjustment.

There are several very good bait stores in our area and they will usually go out of their way to help you set up your bait tanks correctly.

The stripers that are grouped deep will hit downlined blueback herring and even gizzard shad. Use as light of a fluorocarbon leader as is possible.

Also, use a heavy weight to get you herring down quickly into the cooler subsurface layer of water.

Trolling a large 1-to 30-ounce SPRO Buck Tails on lead core line or with your Cannon Downriggers are a great way to cover water while trying to locate the large schools of stripers that are down deep.

You will want your buck tail to run around 25-to 30-feet deep and keep your trolling speed to around 2 1/2 miles per hour.

The stripers will come out of nowhere to nail this lure. Some anglers are sticking with the trolling bite all day long and are catching fish while moving around.

Crappie fishing during the day is slow, but the night action has been a little better. If you fish during the day, plan on working the brush piles in 15-to 25-deep with downlined crappie minnows and Micro Spoons.

The best fishing occurs after dark on the lighted boat docks with some fish showing up on the bridges. Use your graph to determine the proper depth, and drop live crappie minnows or native spot tail minnows on a down line from 7-to 15-feet deep.

Trout fishing is good and if you fish on the Chattahoochee below Buford Dam there is the added bonus of air conditioning.

The water below Buford Dam is about 60 degrees and you can feel the coolness in the air when you float down the river. It is most noticeable when the air temperatures are over 90.

The same thing occurs in the mountain streams, but the effect is a lot less due to the water volume of a stream versus the larger volume on the river. It is still great to feel a cool breeze in summer.

Besides the cooler ride, the trout are biting well. Cast small Rooster Tails or Count Down Rapalas around any rapids or deeper pools.

Live earth worms are just about the best bet, but check your local regulation and stick with the artificial lures if you are unsure.

Bank Fishing: Most people will want to swim in the water as opposed to fishing it during the hottest months. That being said, you can find cooler fishing after dark and many species will bite even better when the sun goes down.

One of the least targeted species on Lake Lanier is the channel catfish and these make great table fair. Channel catfish will often bite lures, but live or dead shad are hard to beat.

Mr. Whiskers loves live shad and you can set out a live shad below a bobber, or cut the shad in half and hook them through the body and cast them out with a 1/4-to 1/2-ounce sinker.

Some people put bells on their poles so they can kick back and wait for the ringing to reel in a fish. Often their nap is disturbed by a fish taking the bait.

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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