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Lake Lanier Fishing Report: Watch the fall colors from the lake

POSTED: November 3, 2011 7:37 p.m.

Lake temperatures are in the mid to lower 60s. The lake level is 1059.2, which is 11.8 feet below full pool of 1071. Lake Lanier is clear to stained and the Chattahoochee River is very stained. The fall colors are close to peak so it's a great time to be on the water. Check generation schedules before heading out to the river @ 770-945-1466

Bass: Bass fishing remains good for anglers who are willing to decipher the late fall patterns. The lower water levels throw some anglers a curve, but with less water in the lake the fish will tend to be more concentrated and we have found that fishing is actually better. The same rule as in past weeks still applies this week - a little bit of everything is working.
Some anglers are lucky enough to fish a few days during the week while others may only go a few times a year. When you are on the water several days a week it is a definite advantage because there is no replacement for time spent on the water. But what if you only fish a couple of times a month and just want to get out for a half a day? In this case I would recommend picking a couple of methods you have confidence in and concentrate on areas midway back in the creeks. Ditches and channels are key areas to target. You can plainly see a lot of the ditches in the shallow coves because they are out of the water. If you use your electronics and follow these shallow ditches out to where they meet the bigger ditches, creek and then river channel you can bet you will find bass along these "fish highways." Bass are like deer and people. We usually don't just trudge haphazard through the middle of the woods. Instead, we stick to specific paths that are easier to navigate. Bass are similar in that they use ditches and channels to navigate around the lake.

I tend to start looking at the steeper banks that are next to ditches using my electronics and targeting visual cover like isolated docks or brush. Worms, jigs, lizards and shad imitating soft plastics are great choices when picking apart cover like docks. I use a Cane Stick or finesse worm on a 1/8th jig head for the majority of my dock fishing but running a jerk bait, crank bait or even a top water lure around the docks and brush will often trick these shallow fish into biting. There have been shallow bass in some areas that will bite all day.

If you don't find the bass biting shallow then use your electronics and follow the ditches out into deeper water from 15 to 30 feet and concentrate on the intersections with deeper ditches or creek channels. Fish anything that looks good while moving out. Often bass hold in brush, rocks or stumps that appear along the way and you may catch a few off a single piece of cover.

If the shallow and mid-depth fish are not cooperating, or if you just prefer to fish deeper, then this is still a great time of year as we have caught bass from 5 feet to 50 feet deep this week. The deeper bass tend to congregate on steep banks or along creek channels with timber nearby. Bass use the steeper banks and timber to move shallow or deep without having to travel long distances. Some days these bass may be crushing blue backs on top and the next they may be meandering near the bottom. Top water plugs or sub-surface offerings will work well depending on the activity level of the fish. If you see them on the bottom try dropping a jig or spoon down to them. There has been a decent after-dark bite on crank baits and spinner baits and you will have the lake to yourself.

Stripers: Striper fishing has been very good and the large schools of striper are still showing up on the surface. I have taken several people fishing that have never seen this schooling action and the first time that they do the reaction is usually the same. They say "I didn't know there were that many stripers in the whole lake," and usually we are witnessing just one of a number of schools that are thrashing the water. Target areas down lake below Browns Bridge for the most consistent action but there are some stripers schooling up around Gainesville Marina and on the Chestatee arm of the lake too.

Most of the guides are targeting stripers with a combination of artificial lures and live blue back herring on flat and down lines. The schools on the surface can appear to be immense but there are some even larger schools below. Your electronics are key tools because if these stripers are eating fast moving blue backs then they will move around a lot.

Pay close attention to both the surface of the lake and also watch what is going on under the water with your electronics. The other day our screen blacked out in the middle of a main lake creek mouth while no fish were showing up top. My best friend who passed away a few years ago used to tell me that the water can be calm but that the fish are "fighting a war right below us." This can be very true, especially when stripers are attacking blue backs.

The night bite is still good but has been a little slower for us this past week. Cast Bombers, Red Fins and McSticks to windy banks around the dam and also around the islands.

Crappie: Crappie are biting and these tasty fish often get overlooked in fall. Fall is actually one of the better times to target crappie because they are up shallow and feeding before winter arrive and slows their metabolism.

Trolling is one of your best bets as many of the shallower brush piles are out of the water. The kind of trolling that is best is what is called a "lake rake" or "spider rig." You can fish as many rods as you can handle but six rods is a very good start. You will want to have three light fishing poles per side. Position your longest rod in the front rod holder, use a medium length rod in the side rod holder and then use a short rod in the back to cover the area directly behind your boat. Anglers often troll two crappie jigs on each pole so you have the potential to catch several crappies at a time which often occurs this time of year when the crappies are schooled up.

Minnows below and bobber and shoot jigs up under the docks can both be very good in fall. Fishing around the bridge pilings can also be good but if you don't get a bite walk down the shore or venture farther toward the backs of the creeks.

Trout: The river below Buford Dam is still stained but up in the Wildlife Management Areas the water is crisp and clean. There are several trout stocking champagne's happening this month. If you are lucky enough to find one of the pools where they have just released hatchery trout you should be able to finish out your limit quickly. Better yet check with this website and volunteer to help stock the trout and you will know where to fish the next day! See http://www.nps.gov/chat/planyourvisit/whitewatercreek.htm These newly released fish are dumb and hungry and will strike just about any lure or bait. Always make sure to check local regulations. Some places are seasonal and close in the winter. Others do not allow live baits and still other areas are restricted to barbless hooks so it pays to know the rules.

Bank Fishing: Most of Lake Lanier's fish are up in the shallows sometime during the day so they can be caught from the bank. The three species that are most popular are bass, crappie and stripers and they are all biting well this week. One species that often get ignored are catfish. Lake Lanier has many catfish but because the water is pretty clear I thing people overlook this untapped resource. Catfish love fresh bait fish, both alive and dead.

To catch catfish, target coves near the marinas and also around the campgrounds. Use a live large shiner and rig it on a Carolina type rig. This rig consists of a heavy action pole with 12 to 15 pound line with a sliding one once weight and ties to a swivel with a leader. Hook a live shad through the lips or cut up some shad or try live night crawlers and secure your fishing poles. The majority of catfish you will catch will be 3-6 pounds which are the perfect size for eating.


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. I would love to hear from our readers so please email me at esaldrich@yahoo.com or visit my website at aldrichfishing.com or lakelanierfishing.info. Remember to take a kid fishing!



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