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Lake Lanier Fishing Report: Topwater fishing improves on the lake

POSTED: May 3, 2012 10:04 p.m.

Water temperatures have risen into the 70s. Lake Lanier’s water level is at 1,064.93, which is 6.07 feet below a full pool of 1,071. The CORP is slowing water releases, according to news reports to keep more water in the lake.

Lake Lanier is clear on the main lake and slightly stained in the creeks and coves. The Chattahoochee River below Buford dam is clear. Check generation schedules before heading out to the river at 770-945-1466.

Bass: Bass fishing is good and the bass are recovering well from the spawn. We encountered a couple of weeks of post-spawn doldrums where the fishing had slowed a little, but now the fish seem to be doing well and the topwater action is really starting to get hot.

The main reason the topwater activity is so good now on Lake Lanier is that this is the time that the non-native blueback herring spawn.

Bluebacks target sandy or clay areas, and bass follow them for a quick, big meal. Many of the bluebacks are longer than six inches, so large lures work well.

This is the time of year to rely heavily on your electronics and offshore cover like brush, rocks, docks and any other fish-holding cover.

Saddles and humps are great spawning areas for bluebacks. The best areas are usually located close to cover, placed where points or humps drop off into deeper water from 15-to 30-feet deep. Lake Lanier’s spotted bass tend to relate to brush that is strategically located.

Many of us have fished our local lake for years, and one of the best things I could advise is to return to areas where you have caught numbers of bass in the late spring and early summer.

Many anglers work hard to set brush piles and the newer the brush, the more attractive it tends to be to fish.

Newly sunken brush has leaves and bark that decay, which draws in bait fish and bream that, in turn, attracts the predator fish like spotted bass and stripers. If you had located or set a particularly good brush pile two years ago, then often you may find it does not hold as many fish.

Usually, the reason is that someone else has sunken a new brush pile close by. With today’s Side Imaging Technology finding these offshore secret spots is a lot easier.

I can cover a 100-to 400-foot wide path with my 998c unit, and can quickly mark the best locations and either fish them right away, or return later to capitalize on them.

Bass around offshore brush don’t always bury down in the branches and stay there.

Instead they often suspend above, or to the sides of the brush, waiting for an easy meal to come by.

For this reason, we usually position our boat away from the brush and cast topwater plugs, swimbaits or crankbaits to the prime area to pick off the aggressive fish.

After working an area, then we will move above, or close to the brush or timber, and work a worm or jig through the branches.

This week, we have been keeping three or four rods on the deck. A topwater, swim bait, crank bait and a drop shot/finesse jighead worm cover just about all the bases.

During active feeding periods in the morning and throughout the day, we will run and gun our best areas to pick off the active fish.

During inactive feeding periods, we will slow down and work a dropshot or jig head worm through the brush to entice those inactive fish into biting.

My favorite lure for this time of year is a six-inch BBZ1 Slow Sink swim bait. Use heavy tackle, like a 7-foot, or larger, heavy action rod with 25 pound test monofilament.

Make long casts and try to make your swim bait come alive. There is no wrong way to fish it, but I like to start out with a slow steady retrieve, while imparting quick directional changes like jerks or pauses every few yards to trigger bites.

The strikes on these Swimbaits are seldom subtle and usually the fish will break the surface as they grab this lure aggressively. The old saying that anglers use about a fish ‘breaking your arm’ is close to the truth, as many times we struggle to hold on the rod when a big fish strikes.

Wait for the fish to load up on the rod before setting the hook hard. Live spot tail minnows are showing up in the shallows, and these are like candy to largemouth and spotted bass.

Take a handful of grits and throw them out around any sandy area, and use a small mesh cast net. This way, you should be able to catch as many as you need.

We have been catching some good spotted bass and largemouths after dark on Jigs, crankbaits and spinner baits worked slow and steady around main lake points and humps.

Stripers: The striper fishing has been good, and they are striking topwater lures during the morning hours and active feeding periods during the day.

They are also taking live bait well. Most of these surfacing schools are small pods of 5-10 fish, which can surface and sound quickly.

It is also not that unusual to see a quarter acre or hundreds of stripers exploding on blueback herring on the surface.

I remember not too long ago watching a huge school down lake.

I asked my buddy if he was seeing all of these fish. I was looking a 1/4 mile out in front of the boat when he said ‘Wow’ and I turned around to see him staring in the opposite direction at the same school busting a 100 yards on the other side of the boat. These fish are eating blueback herring and they can move around a good deal.

If the fish are not on top feeding, then you will need to rely on your electronics. Flat lines are working best in the mornings when fish are close to the surface, but downlines may be more affecting as the sun gets higher in the sky.

Blueback herring are your best choice for bait, but gizzard shad and even native spot tail minnows can produce well too.

Watch your electronics to determine where the fish are located in the water column, and use a flat or downline based on how deep you mark fish. Lures can also work on fish under the surface, so don’t hesitate to work a buck tail or sinking swim bait, instead or along with your live bait.

Crappie: Crappie fishing is fair for most people that target these fish shallow, but anglers in the know are catching good fish from brush that is 10-to 20-feet deep.

Cast small crappie jigs or even spot tail minnows on a down line around brush and laydowns on deeper creek banks. There are still a few fish up shallow, but the better ones will be deeper down. The night bite around the bridges should be starting to improve, so get your lights out and go out after dark for some fun fishing after dark.

Trout: Trout fishing is good and there are plenty of fish biting both below Buford Dam and up in the mountain streams and rivers.

My friend, Gary Willis, caught a 20-inch trout from the Toccoa River recently, so there are some big fish mixed in with all the rest of the stocked trout. My favorite spinning lure is a draw between a Countdown Rapala and a small inline spinner.

Live earth worms where permitted by law can also ensure a quick limit and fishing with dry flies is also producing well.

Bank fishing: Carp? Yes, it’s that time of year when these North Georgia Redfish move into the beach areas and around the marinas.

Carp are drawn to human activity because they are looking for an easy meal. Although Americans consider carp to be junk fish, they are still a bunch of fun to catch. Corn, earthworms and dough balls all work well, but I feel corn is the easiest to use.

Open a can of corn, throw half out into the water for chum and then thread 4-5 kernels onto a small hook with a split shot pinched a foot above, and cast these out and secure the rod. You will catch some big ones and kids and adults will love to reel these hard fighting fish.

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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