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Lake Lanier Fishing Report: Look deep for best chance at stripers

POSTED: July 26, 2012 10:08 p.m.

Lake temperatures are in the upper 80s to low 90s. Lake levels are holding steady at 1,063.42 feet, which is 7.58 feet below full pool of 1,071 feet. The main lake is clear and the creeks are clear to stained. The Chattahoochee River is clear. Check generation schedules before heading out to the river at 770-945-1466.

Bass: The weather is hot and most people think that it is the worst time of year to fish, but I must disagree.

Several factors drive fish deeper, while others keep them shallow. Most anglers pay close attention to the surface temperature on their electronics, but some don’t take into consideration that the lower layers of water are much cooler.

Water separates into layers in the summer and winter. In summer, there is a distinct area where warm surface water meets cooler, deeper water. This is called a thermocline. This abrupt temperature change will actually show up on most modern fish finders. If you have an older finder, you can still usually see a concentration of bait or predator fish that will hover at the same depth. This is a good indicator of where the water thermocline is located.

Right now, my Humminbird is showing a thermocline between 15 and 20 feet and that is the depth a lot of bass are relating to.

Bass, like humans, enjoy hanging out in the cooler water but they will move shallow or deep as they hunt for food. We have caught a few bass this week on topwater plugs.

This surface action can happen at any time of day, but the morning bite has been the most consistent. Cast a Jerk Shad or Fluke over points and humps with brush on main lake and into the creeks. Other topwater plugs like Pop Rs and Super Spooks have been working, but I am getting more bites on the soft plastic jerk baits.

As the sun gets higher in the sky, the spotted bass have been relating to rocky areas and brush piles from 15-to 30-feet deep. Not all brush will hold fish, so look for the best areas to be around bottom contour changes.

An ideal area would be a long tapering point with an abrupt drop off into deep water on the end. Target the transition areas especially when brush, rock or timber is in the area. We have been working Big Bites Shakin’ Squirrels and Finesse Worms on a dropshot rig for the best results.

I have been catching most of the bass by positioning the boat directly above the brush and ‘video game’ fishing with my Humminbird 858c. I can see my lure drop and watch the fish rise or drop to follow the lure when they eat it. This is the coolest video game in the world to me.

Some master anglers on Lake Lanier target stranding timber when the temperature rises. Lake Lanier’s timber is vast, and the productive areas can be elusive, but this is where some of the biggest bass tend to relate in summer.

Your electronics are essential tools for fishing timber. Target trees that top out from 20- to 40-feet below the surface. Try a drop shot, Fish Head Spin or soft plastic swim bait and try to reel through the tree tops. Some of the most productive timber can be as deep as 100 feet. This can be an exhausting way to fish, but when you catch a trophy spotted over five pounds, it can be worth it.

Some anglers are catching largemouth bass. The population of largemouth is very good right now. Target upper lake creeks channels from 10-to-20 feet deep with Little John DD deep diving crank baits.

Carolina and Texas rigged worms will also work well for largemouths.

Stripers: While many anglers struggle with summertime stripers, the guides have got things dialed in very well. The catching is very good for anglers that can unlock the secrets of this deep bite.

The stripers are schooled deep in flats with and without timber from 35-to-100 feet or deeper.

Trolling is a great way to locate and catch stripers. Start your days trolling in the creek mouths and move around until you locate stripers on your electronics. Troll a 1-or 2-ounce SPRO Bucktail tipped with a Hyper Tail or live blueback and run these lures at around 30- feet deep.

You can use 8-9 colors on your lead core or set your Cannon Down Riggers to that depth, and adjust up or down as needed. Keep your boats running from 2-3 miles an hour.

Once you locate the huge deep schools, you can continue to troll or slow down and drop live blueback herring down to the level where you mark fish. Keeping your bait lively is an art in itself and is essential to catching summertime stripers.

Some anglers are getting out after dark and having decent success fishing below Hydro Glow Lights around the marinas. The stripers will move a little more shallow after dark, but let your electronics show you the best depths to drop your baits.

Crappie: Crappie fishing has been tough, but anglers who find the productive deep brush are still catching some. I went out with my friend Keith Pace on a hot summer day a while back and he proved to me that the crappie can still be caught in the hottest months.

He caught 10 for every one I caught, so there is definitely an art to catching summertime slabs.

Trout: The trout are biting OK first thing in the mornings below the dam and in the mountain Wildlife Management Areas. If you can get out right at day break, your best action will happen before the sun shines on the water.

Inline spinners, dry flies and live earthworms, where permitted by law, are your best bets.

Bank fishing: Several specials can be caught from the banks in summer. Worms fished below a float or on a bottom rig will catch a variety of species. Kids can take a Zebco 33 rigged with a small Aberdeen hook, tipped with an earthworm and a bobber and roam the banks. If the fish don’t bite below the bobber, then remove it and pinch a small split shot above the hook and cast it out deeper.

Bass, bream, crappie, carp and catfish will all eat live earthworms.

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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