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Lake Lanier Fishing Report: Be ready to cover large areas to catch active stripers
Eric Aldrich
Local bass angler Eric Aldrich poses with a fish he caught. - photo by For The Times

The CORPS continues its normal fall drawdown in anticipation of the rainy winter season. 

Lake Lanier is down at 1,067.49 feet or 3.59 feet below the normal full pool of 1,071. 

Lake temperatures have fallen with the cooler fall weather and the lake water is currently in the mid to lower 70’s. 

The main lake and creeks mouths are clear with some stained water showing up in some areas from lake turnover. 

The creeks and rivers upstream are clear to stained due to the turnover. 

The Chattahoochee River below Buford Dam is very stained due to stratification or lake turnover. 

Check generation schedules before heading out to the river at 770-945-1466.

Bass fishing has improved and it’s time for anglers to load up our gear and go fishing. 

Hurricane Ian missed us totally and the lake level continues to drop. 

Dropping water is a pain for dock owners but a boon for anglers. 

Lower lake levels concentrate the fish and bait, and gives the fish less water to hide. 

We have really keyed in on two techniques: Power fishing with topwater or swim-bait fishing, following up with either a subsurface lure like a swim or crank bait or finesse techniques like drop shot, shaky heads or Ned Rigs. 

The subsurface offerings only get used if the fish are not schooling.

I have stowed almost every rod on the deck, except for my 8-Foot Kissel Krafts medium weight bait-casting rod. 

I have spooled my reels with 65 pound Suline SX1 Braid attached to a 4-5-foot Sunline Sniper Fluorocarbon Leader. 

This is the setup I use for casting my topwater plugs and swim baits. 

My lures of choice for topwater fishing this week include a SPRO Fat Pappa 130, a Sammy, SPRO Pop 80 or even a Storm Saltwater Chug Bug. 

We have also been casting baits like a SPRO BBZ1 six-inch or a Sebile 110 over these same schooling fish.

Fishing and environmental conditions will often dictate what type of fishing styles we start with. 

If the weather is calm and the water is glassy, start your day casting a topwater that mimics the blueback herring that Lake Lanier’s bass and stripers are keying on. 

If the wind is blowing, then start out by casting a Georgia Blade Spinner Baits or even a SPRO McStick to any wind-blown banks where shad or herring are present. 

Keep moving and cover water until you find actively-feeding fish. 

Pay close attention to which lures trigger bass to bite and switch over to another option if you are not getting a bite. 

Once the sun rises, we just start running high-percentage areas. 

The normal cover and structure like main-brush piles or rocky points or humps that are in the wind have been key areas to fish. 

Continue to rotate through your best running and gunning areas. 

Let the fish tell you what lures to use. 

Keep moving and casting. 

You should run into an active school of fish.

After the sun sets, the night fishing has been really good. 

Grab your rods and tie on a SPRO RkCrawler or Georgia Blade Nighttime Spinner bait and get to work. 

Cast these lures to any banks that have rock and reel them slow and steady close to the bottom for some great strikes.

Striper fishing is good for the most part, but anglers may have to search around to locate actively-feeding fish. 

Keep an open mind and be prepared to cover some water. 

These fish are keying in on the massive schools of herring and shad that are slowly migrating into the creeks and rivers.  

In my boat we stash all the live bait and trolling rigs and get out casting rods for topwater striper fishing in fall. 

The stripers will chase herring and shad out on the main lake as well as into the lower creek and upper lake rivers. 

The fish are not schooling everywhere, but they are showing up in some key locations in larger schools that can be seen thrashing the surface. 

I have a variety of the same lures tied on that we use for bass fishing. 

Anglers can also fish with a fly rod this time of year, rigged with a larger streamer that mimics large herring. 

We just keep moving and scan the lake surface looking for the large blow-ups that you can see from a distance.

If you are just getting started with your fall striper fishing, then now is a great time to hit the water. 

As you launch your boat, keep watching the surface of the lake along with your electronics for signs of bait and schooling fish. 

The stripers can be found in just about any depth they want to because the lake turnover mixes the water up and scatters the fish. 

The layers of cooling surface water start to mix with the deeper warming lake water. 

The stripers and bait can be located at any depth. 

If you have not been to the lake recently, then trolling is a great way to bring anglers up to speed on what the fish are doing. 

Let your electronics show you what depth to set out your trolling or live-baits rigs. 

Anglers can really cover water while pulling umbrella rigs or even single lures to trigger reactions from Lake Lanier’s striper population. 

Make sure, when trolling, to set your spread out so that your offerings run at different depths. 

Once you determine the best depth for that day, set your other rods to the same levels. 

Be aware that conditions will change. 

The fish will react. 

Keep an open mind and let the fish strikes determine the best method for your present conditions.

Pulling a pre-rigged Captain Mack’s umbrella rig is an easy way for anglers to find and locate fish. 

Usually, a boat can pull one or two umbrella rigs at a time. 

Set out each rig at different levels and adjust until you find the best depth to troll. 

Make sure to also purchase an umbrella-rig retriever as it will pay for itself the first time you get snagged. 

You will get snagged trolling.

If you find an area full of fish then set out either fat or down lines based on what depth your electronics show. 

Purchase plenty of lively herring so that you are ready for the fish when they show up. 

I like a No. 2 Gamakatsu Octopus Hook. 

Hook your herring though the lips so that your baits look natural, while pulling them around prime areas. 

Add or decrease weight as needed to put your live baits at the proper depth. 

The night bite continues to heat up and its getting better and better as the water cools down. 

Rig your rods with two lures. 

Use either a Bomber Long A or a SPRO McStick and rotate through a run to all the lighted boat docks. 

The stripers will feed under these green dock lights, so knowing where these prime spots are located is key to a successful night of striper catching.

Crappie anglers are not left out of the fun. 

Crappie, like bass and stripers are following the bait as it moves further and further back into the creeks. 

Anglers that chase these tasty pan fish should rotate through a series of submerged brush located midway back into the creeks.

Once you locate a dock or docks that hold crappie, then cast your jigs to these areas. 

Let them fall to the level where crappie are located and work them slowly around these schools of fish. 

Anglers can also drop live herring, shad or store-bought crappie minnows on a light down line to these same brush piles that you would work a jig through.

The crappie are also biting after dark around the same green lights that hold stripers and bass. 

Cast small crappie jigs to the lights and swim them back through the fish. 

Night fishing can be awesome as it’s fun to actually see the fish chase your lures.

You can email Eric Aldrich at esaldrich@yahoo.com with comments or questions.

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