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Lake Lanier Fishing Report: Bass are on the move with high water levels
Eric Aldrich
Local bass angler Eric Aldrich poses with a fish he caught. - photo by For The Times

Lake Lanier is above full pool and is exactly same level as last week at 1,073.65 or 2.65 foot above the normal full pool of 1,071. 

Lake Lanier’s water level is higher than the CORPs would like it to be. 

They have plans on doing work on the Dam and need to draw it down about 2-3 feet below full pool right around 1,069 feet by the end of November. 

The main lake clarity is everywhere from clear to stained. The creeks and rivers are stained to very stained. 

Lake Lanier’s surface temperatures are in the uppers 60’s in the mornings but they warm up on into the low 70’s by afternoon. 

Lake turnover continues to occur in different areas all over the lake. You can often see and smell it. 

A lot of people are unaware that the lake turnover occurs for several months in different locations.

The Chattahoochee River below Buford Dam is almost pea green from lake turns over. Check generation schedules before heading out to the river at 770-945-1466. 

Bass fishing rates anywhere from tough to very good. 

The fish seemed to have relocated due to higher than normal lake water levels and lake turnover. 

We caught bass on a jig around 45-feet deep to shallow or on a spinner bait in feet feet of water and everywhere in between. 

Usually fishing during the week days allows anglers to go almost anywhere on the lake without competition. 

That has not been the case this past couple of weeks due to several major tournaments including The FLW’s-BFL Regional that is Thursday-Saturday. 

A lot of the community holes will be occupied. 

My dad taught me that when you see a boat already fishing an area before we arrive, then we need move on to another spot. I have had professional anglers come in and politely ask if they could fish along with us. When that happens, we will usually oblige. 

A lot of the time we will back off and watch. 

You will often see another angler fish a well-known honey hole in a different way than locals. This offers up an opportunity to learn something new. 

Start your day shallow around the reef markers, points and humps out in the wind. 

You can fish both on main lake as well as on back into the creeks. 

Rocky areas located in to pockets usually provides successful fishing. 

Docks that have shallow water around the gang planks, but deeper water on the ends are also worth fishing. 

Just watch out for those cables and please respect property owners. 

As anglers, we represent all of the fishing community.

Cast lures that imitate smaller shad like an Alabama Rig, spinner baits like a Mini-Me with willow leaf blades or a SPRO Little John MD. 

Use Shad colors or chartreuse. 

Retrieve your lures at a medium pace. 

If you catch one or two fish pretty quickly in one area, turn around and re-fish it. 

There may be a monster school or fish in that area that can provide multiple strikes. 

Some times, anglers can score a quick limit on one of their first spots. 

Fishing has been a little unpredictable since the water levels rose quickly a couple weeks ago. 

The fish can be in one area one day and then you may fish that area again two days later without getting a bite or even seeing fish on your Lowrance Fish Finder.

The topwater action has been very slow. 

Keep a topwater plug handy at all times. 

You may see one fish busting bait on the surface that you can catch if you are prepared. 

Continue casting smaller topwater plugs like a Zara Spook Jr., Sammy 90 or a SPRO E Pop 80 will also entice some bites early in the day. 

Anglers should keep a SPRO Spin John 80 Spy Bait tied on and ready. 

These subtle lures will often fool those same fish that are giving away their location on top or at specific depth where you see fish on the screen of your fish finders. 

These lures sink about 1 1/2 feet every second so you can count them down to a specific depth. 

With a 10-count, your lure will probably be about 15-feet below the surface. 

It’s a great option for running and gunning and we have had better success with the SPRO Spy Bait vs. fishing with the same topwater plugs that were working before the water came up.

Once your fish around the brush piles, move in and fish a dropshot or shaky-head rigged with Lanier Baits Fruity Worm or a Big Bite Baits Shakin’ Squirrel. 

Here is a tip that I got from the owner of Lanier Baits: Mr. Lanier Jim. He suggested a couple of years back that if the fish are reacting to the dropshot rig but are not biting, then shorten the leader on your drop shot or try a shaky head instead. 

This can make the difference from just seeing the wavy lines or ‘sketti’ on your Lowrance’s screen to actually catching them. 

Junk fishing, or basically having 5-10 rods rigged with a different lure on each one has been working right now. 

Pick a lure you have confidence in and give it a try. 

Because the fish are both shallow and deep, anglers can pick their favorite lures and catch fish when nobody else is using it. 

Night fishing has been almost the same as daytime fishing. 

You may catch them great on Monday evening only to return Wednesday evening and find an area seemingly devoid of fish.  

I usually stick with a SPRO Little John DD around rocky banks for my best success.

Striper fishing has rated from good to very good. 

Like with the bass, your can almost choose your favorite method and go catching. The higher water levels do affect your fishing lines and you may have to clear pine straw, leaves and small limbs from your lines. That is not a big deal. When you find the fish, then both live bait and trolling are working well.

Start out trolling and keep moving until you find the fish. 

Watch your fish finders and also pay attention to the strikes you get on your trolling rigs. 

Most people don’t get to fish 3-4 or more days a week. 

It is a true blessing. 

You get to see awesome things like schools of stripers with literally hundreds of fish exploding on bait that they have trapped against the surface. 

My point is simply, if you catch one decent fish in the fall you can almost bank on that there are more around that will bite your lures or live baits.

The mid-lake areas seem to be holding the bigger schools of fish. 

Check out areas from Gainesville Marina all the way down around Old Federal Campground. 

Other areas are probably holding fish, too, but mid-lake is where I have seen them the most.

Your Lowrance Fish Finders are essential tools for telling you things that will absolutely help provide you with the knowledge you need to catch fish. 

In addition to pulling the Captain Mack’s Mini Rigs, try using live blueback herring on both down lines (weighted) and flat lines (unweighted). 

The stripers may only be 30-50 feet deep, but they can be located over just about any depth because of the lake turnover that is occurring.

Keep a topwater lure, like a Cordell Redfin or a SPRO Pop 80 ready to cast to any surfacing fish. 

Many anglers live to see a big striper attacking a topwater plug, but other lures may be working better. 

Cast a SPRO McStick 115, an Alabama Rig or a Captain Mack’s Mini Rig to any schooling fish you see. 

The catch rate is almost 3 to 1 versus a topwater plug.

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. He would love to hear from readers, so please email me at

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