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Lake Lanier Fishing Report: Fish here today, gone the next

POSTED: July 18, 2013 8:30 p.m.

Lake Lanier’s water level is 1.37 feet over the normal full pool of 1,071. The water is clear on main lake and clear to stained in the creeks and rivers. Lake water temperatures continue to hold in the low to mid 80s. The Chattahoochee River below Buford Dam is clear. Please check generation schedules before heading out to the river at 770-945-1466.

Bass Fishing has been good but the fish are roaming around.

We have had to keep an open mind because areas that are productive areas one day seem to be void of fish the next. Running and gunning has been a necessity because we have had to sample many areas before finding the active schools. Blue back herring move around a lot and bass can easily travel over mile a day. This makes finding the best areas a challenge.

When you find the active schools then a top water plug or swim bait is working. A mid to deep running crank bait has been a good choice when the fish are not feeding on the surface. Some days a slow steady retrieve has been best and on others burning the crank bait at a fast pace will trigger suspended or deeper bass into biting.

We are starting to see more fish moving into the deeper brush piles. In past weeks I had caught very few bass deeper than 25 feet, but we are now picking some up in brush piles at depths of 25-35 feet. These fish also seem to be bigger ones, too, and drop shots or jigs will work best.

My Humminbird bow depth finder is showing a lot of inactive suspended fish. Fish that suspend are often hard to catch, but you can trigger reaction bites. I describe reaction bites from fish as being similar to us swatting a bee that is flying too close to our face.

Fish don’t have hands, so they swat at lures that get too close with their mouths. We have been getting several bites on crank baits at the end of the retrieve. What is happening is that the lure comes up through the school and triggers these suspended bass in to biting.

These same inactive fish can be coaxed by dropping a worm down through them quickly, or stopping it in front of them. If you see a fish, follow your lure down on the graph get ready to set the hook!

Night fishing has been decent. Use a deep diving crank bait and slow roll it through rocks, brush and other cover or do the same thing with large, single Colorado bladed spinner baits. Also try a 1/2- to 3/4-ounce black jig with a rattle and crayfish type trailer, and work these through brush in the 15- to 25-foot zone.

Stripers: Striper fishing has been good, but you may need to move around to find them. Like the bass, these large predators are following school of blue back herring. Herring move around quickly and you may need to follow suit. The stripers are scattered both up and down lake and are mostly relating to the blue back herring schools.

Because these fish are on the move, trolling has been a great way to cover water to find the fish, plus some days it is working as well as live bait. You can use lead core line or a Cannon Downrigger with a large SPRO Buck Tail tipped with a Hyper Tail or try a BBZ1 Shad. Set your lead core out to eight colors or drop your downrigger ball down to 30-35 feet. Vary your boat speed between 1 « and 2 « miles per hour. Some of your strikes will occur as your boat speeds up slightly or as you turn. Target flats with timber adjunct to creek and river channels from 45-70 feet deep, and also explore the deeper channels.

Your electronics are key tools year round but especially in summer. This has not been a typical summer, so your best locations will change daily and sometime even hourly. I use Side Imaging on my Humminbird graph and set the range to 120 feet to identify the blue back schools which show up like clouds on the screen.

I can move my cursor on the screen to mark the locations of these baitfish schools, then move in and set my range down to 50 feet or switch to traditional 2D imaging to actually see the stripers amongst the bait fish.

Once you locate the stripers, you can continue to troll or set out downlines rigged with blue backs, or try native gizzard shad or spot tail minnows. Make sure your bait is lively and replace them frequently. Use a six-foot leader with 12-pound fluorocarbon and a sharp Gamaktsu Octopus or Circle Hook.

You can hook the herring through the lips but if the wind is light try hooking them through the back to make them move erratically. When live bait fishing, you can also jig a buck tail or spoon to catch a few bonus fish.

Not many anglers are reporting this but night fishing with lights has been great in the lower lake creek mouths.

You can often stop your boat in an area that doesn’t show fish, put out your lights and draw the fish to you. The lights attract baitfish which in turn draws in the stripers, bass and even an occasional walleye. Downlines are the way to go when fishing after dark, but you will not need to fish as deep because the stripers will come up to investigate all of the bait that is swimming around your lights.

Crappie fishing remains fair. Target lighted boat docks or anchor around bridges that are towards the backs of the creeks. Wahoo Creek, Little River and Two Mile Creek are prime examples of places that hold crappie after dark.

Set out crappie minnows or native spot tail minnows on downlines, and watch your graph to determine the best depths. You will catch other bonus species of fish when night fishing.

Trout fishing remains consistent and few places are nicer to be on a hot day then a cool trout stream, or the Chattahoochee River below Buford Dam. The cold water cools the air on hot days and provides natural air conditioning.

The water quality in most of our trout waters has been very good due to the steady rains. Because of this almost any method of fishing will work so pick your favorite and hit the water.

As you may be able to tell if you read these reports, my favorite lure for trout fishing is a good old silver and white Rooster Tail. Cast these in-line spinners around rapids and in the deeper pools and reel it just fast enough to keep the blades spinning.

Bank Fishing: The North Georgia redfish are biting well this week. This is the term we anglers call carp because many people frown on catching these hard fighting “junk fish”. Whether you have kids who are just starting to fish or you are a seasoned angler, carp fishing is easy and fun. Open a can of corn and throw a handful out for chum. Take an ultra-light fishing rod with 6-8 pound test and crimp a Ú-ounce split shot above the hook. Thread a few kernels on a small Aberdeen hook, cast it out and hold on. Carp frequent Marinas and camp grounds and will bite even on the hottest days.

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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