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Lake Lanier Fishing Report: Catching bass easier with shorter days, cooler weather
Eric Aldrich
Local bass angler Eric Aldrich poses with a fish he caught. - photo by For The Times

For the first time since early February, Lake Lanier’s water level has fallen just below full pool at 1,070.95 or .05 feet below the normal full pool of 1,071. 

The main lake is mostly clear. The creeks and up lake rivers are clear to stained.

Lake Lanier’s surface temperatures are around 80 degrees. 

Chattahoochee River below Buford Dam is clear. Check generation schedules before heading out to the river at 770-945-1466. 

Bass fishing has made a positive change. Lake Lanier’s fish population can sense the shorter days and cooler weather. Combine that with the fact that we are moving past the crowded boat traffic it’s time to get out and go catching.

Start your days casting topwaters to shallow reef markers, points, brush piles and steep banks. 

The fish have been very active at dawn. That first hour can produce some great topwater action.

Don’t put your topwater plugs away as this action will occur all day, depending on weather conditions and where you are fishing. 

Some of our best topwater action has been occurring in the middle of the day. 

The fish seem to bite better during sunny weather than they do when there is cloud cover. 

The bass are under the surface and they use the surface as a place to trap herring and shad. 

They can silhouette their prey better when the sun is out. 

When they see commotion on the surface, they can resist investigating what is going on. Often bass charge up from 20-feet or more to strike our lures. Topwater strikes are what anglers live for. When the bass are eating topwater plugs, most anglers will ignore other techniques.

Other subsurface lures will also work to catch bass. 

A SPRO McStick looks just like a herring. Don’t hesitate to add it to your fishing rotation. You can also cast a Big Bites suicide Shad rigged on a fish head spin. 

Spy Baits cast over brush will entice a strike when nothing else works.

Keep an eye on your Lowrance Electronics. 

If you see arcs or lines on the screen, then use a drop shot rigged with a Lanier Baits Fruity Worm. Drop it directly down to where you see fish on your fish finder. We almost always get a few extra fish this way. Keep a drop shot rig ready at all times.

I use several different rods and lines for different techniques. 

When casting topwater plugs, I use a long eight-foot Kissel Krafts Custom Casting Rod with a medium-action and 20-pound Sunline Natural Monofilament. 

This rod and line have some give, which assists bass to get hooked better. 

I use a Kissel Krafts Custom Spinning Rod with a medium-light action for my drop shot and spy bait lures. 

This lighter action rod allows anglers to down size to light line. I use 5-7 pound Sunline Sniper Fluorocarbon. This light setup is almost undetectable to bass.

The fishing after dark has really picked up. The lake is almost deserted after dark. Now that the holidays are over and school is in, you may have the whole lake to yourself. Cast a SPRO RkCrawler to rocky banks in the creek mouths to catch these nocturnal feeders.

Striper fishing has been good and we are starting to see a move toward shallow water. 

Use your Lowrance Electronics to decipher where the stripers are located in the water column. 

As the water cools, the thermocline will break up. 

This allows the stripers to roam around at any level so that is why your electronics are so essential.

The stripers have been relating to the bait schools. 

We have been seeing schools of stripers that are relatively shallow for this time of year. 

There have been a lot of fish in the 25-45 foot zone. 

These fish will often be swimming at that depth over much deeper water. 

This past week, the stripers have been showing up in the ditches. Anglers can look for ditches with a quality map, but you can often look at the bank to see ditches. Any depression like a rain run-off, small feeder creek or even creek and river channels qualify as a ditch.

Once you find the stripers, you can either troll umbrella rigs or set out live herring. 

Both flat lines and down lined herring are working well. 

Trolling allows you to cover water while you look for fish on your electronics.

The good news is that we are starting to see medium-sized schools of stripers feeding on shad and herring on the surface. When the stripers are crushing bait on top, you can often see this action from over a 1/2 mile away. It looks like someone is dropping cinderblocks into the water.

Keep a topwater plug ready at all time. 

Casting Sammys, Spooks, Redfins or even a subsurface lure like the McStick will fool these schooling fish into biting. 

When you encounter a school busting up bait, take a deep breath and make accurate casts to the action. 

Anglers, including me often get ‘striper fever’. It’s all too common for excited anglers to make mistakes when we rush to grab a casting rod. 

This results in bad casts, back lashes and other mistakes so try to stay calm. You will be rewarded with some awesome strikes.

Crappie are starting to bite around the docks and bridges both early in the day and from dusk on into the night. 

Shoot small crappie jigs under docks with brush. 

If you are not proficient with shooting jigs, you can also cast to the sides of the docks and let your jigs pendulum down to the fish. 

Watch your line and pay attention to any light ticks that give away these light strikes from the tasty panfish.

The best depth ranges based on the water clarity, water temperatures, oxygen levels and water flow. 

Brush or submerged trees located from 10-30 feet can be crappie magnets. 

If the water is clear, try fishing deeper. 

If the water is stained, the crappie will often be much shallower.

Lighted boat docks are also great places to fish after dark. 

You can also create your own action by placing out Hydro Glow Lights around the bridge pilings. 

Bank fishing: One of my clients made a comment recently that mad me chuckle. 

He asked why anglers fishing from the bank cast out deep while anglers fishing from boats almost always cast towards the bank.

Anglers that walk the banks or lake Lanier and other places like farm and subdivision ponds have a distinct advantage. If you are fishing the bank and you catch a fish it may mean that fish came from a school of fish. 

Bass are aggressive. They will chase a hooked fish and try to steal whatever that fish has. Anglers in boats will often pull that school out into deeper water where they disperse. Anglers fishing from the shore will pull the school closer to the bank where they may concentrate in shallow water.

Bass, brim, crappie and even stripers will be moving up shallower in the fall. Make sure your rods and reels are in good order and that you have fresh line. If you show up prepared, then you will fish better, make longer casts and hopefully land some 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. He would love to hear from readers, so please email me at esaldrich@yahoo.com.

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