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Lake Lanier Fishing Report: Lower lake levels can make fishing easier

POSTED: November 17, 2011 4:53 p.m.

Lake temperatures are in the upper 50s. Recent rains helped raise the lake level slightly to 1058.2, which is 12.8 feet below full pool of 1071. Lake Lanier is clear to stained and the Chattahoochee River below Buford Dam is stained. Check generation schedules before heading out to the river at 770-945-1466.

Bass: One of the benefits of the lower lake levels is that the dropping water levels concentrate fish in a much smaller area so bass fishing can actually get easier. The exposed shore is a fertile place that attracts grass and shrub pines which will provide fish with a great spawning habitat. We have seen a definite rise in the largemouth population which most attribute to the shore growth during the 2008 and 2009 drought.

I had several very good days and a couple of slower ones this week while targeting bass. You can catch spotted and largemouth bass on a variety of lures, so keep an open mind.

Our best day this week came while fishing the shallow water docks and other prominent cover in the shallows. We caught a few quality bass on Little John MDs and McSticks, but our best numbers have come by casting or skipping a 1/8-ounce jig head rigged with a Big Bites Cane Stick or Finesse Worm in green and chartreuse. Many docks are on dry land, so the ones that are still in the water can hold multiple bass.

Skip or shoot a finesse worm on a jig head under the docks. There are some great videos on the internet that will allow you to master skipping or shooting methods. I always use five- to seven-pound fluorocarbon.

Some anglers prefer the new light-braided lines with a fluorocarbon leader while others still use regular monofilament. I like the fluorocarbon because it allows your jig head to sink a little faster, it’s almost invisible to the fish, and it’s much more sensitive than monofilament. Use a Palomar knot when tying fluorocarbon or monofilament and use an improved cinch knot for braided lines.

A sensitive rod is a must. Most of your bites will occur on the initial fall, so if you feel weight set the hook.
We have also caught some big fish out deep on offshore structure, but you may have to work harder when tapping into these unpressured spots. Locate areas that have a shallow hump with a steep side that drops quickly into 50 feet or more. These fish are relating to the timber lines and creek channels, and during active feeding periods can be schooling on the surface. Quality electronics have side imaging and a sensitive down beam which helps quickly locate potential gold mines of untapped fish.

Use a jig, drop shot, finesse jig head or even a spoon and work your lures directly below the front transducer.
You will be able to see the fish and your lure clearly on the screen and often you see the bites on your screen before you feel a strike.

Striper fishing is good and you should be able to find the active schools on main lake in the creeks and pockets. I witnessed many stripers in the shallows feeding in the middle of the coves on shad. There are a bunch of big gizzard shad in the shallows along with some threadfins. A Zoom Fluke, McStick or even a Rooster Tail will work where the stripers are shallow.

Small topwater plugs and flat-lined bluebacks or trout are also a good option for stripers in coves.

There are still some very large schools of stripers feeding heavily on large blueback herring. These schooling fish will appear on the surface, and when they do you may catch them on a variety of lures and baits. Because the bluebacks are so large, big lures will work best.

If they are schooling on the surface try casting a Red Fin and v-wake it slowly on the surface. Other topwater plugs will produce some vicious strikes from the schooling fish. This week the schools have been staying in the same area longer than in past weeks which makes them easier to target.

If you do not see stripers on the surface then use your electronics to find the fish deeper in the water column. My Humminbird’s screen almost blacked out the other day when the surface was like glass. The graph was showing a large school of bluebacks with stripers in and below them just 20 feet below the surface. Use larger blueback herring or trout on both flat and down lines to catch some nice stripers.

The night bite is still decent with Bombers and Red Fins cast to the windy banks around the islands; some anglers are still catching them from the bank around the dam.

Crappie are still biting well and they can be caught both deep and shallow. Trolling Hal Flies or other crappie jigs behind the boat has been productive in the coves and creeks. Look for the water that has a slight stain to indicate your best areas.

There are an abundance of threadfin shad in the backs of the coves and creeks so you may also be able to catch them on small Rooster Tails and crankbaits from the shore. Bridge pilings are also great areas to target.

Trout fishing has been a little slower, but anglers in the know can still get their limit. Fish live, small, red wigglers below the dam (where permitted by law) or cast a bright colored 1/8-ounce Mepps or Rooster Tail spinner in the moving water both below Buford Dam and in the mountain streams.

Bank fishing: The striper anglers are fishing from the shore from Mary Alice Park all the way up into the Chestatee and Chattahoochee Rivers. Use a good rod holder or make some out of PVC and pound them into the bank. Cast a live gizzard shad, trout or blueback herring on a slip bobber and allow your bait about 15 feet of room below the bobber.

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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