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Lake Lanier fishing report: Cool weather a positive for fishing
Eric Aldrich
Local bass angler Eric Aldrich poses with a fish he caught. - photo by For The Times

Water Conditions:  The lake level continues its normal winter drawdown, and lake water levels are at 1,067.23 feet, or 3.77 feet below the normal full pool of 1,071. Water temperatures are in the upper 70s. The main lake and creeks mouths are clear to stained. The creeks and rivers are clear to very stained in the backs due to lake turnover. The Chattahoochee River below Buford Dam is very stained, as lake turnover occurs. Check generation schedules before heading out to the river at 770-945-1466.

The bass and bass anglers are both enjoying these cooler, more seasonal temperatures. Water temperatures have been steady from the mid-80s on down to the current mid to upper-70s. The warmer than normal water temperature changes have affected fishing. Let’s pray for consistent rain and cooler weather going forward.

Some days we can just start fishing and catch bass all over the place. On other days, it pays to just wait with your rod and lure ready as you wait for some surface activity within casting distance. If you can cast a lure within 10 feet of where you saw the bass busting, then you have a very good chance of catching the same fish or maybe the ones below him.   

Cast surface lures like a Zara Spook, Sammy, Chug Bug or your own favorite top-water lures. Fishing with a larger profile swim bait like a SPRO BBZ1 6-inch Trout Swim Bait is a great way to catch a big spotted bass. If you look at your Lowrance Units and see that the bass are suspended, try swimming a Big Bite Baits Suicide Shad Swimbait. These lures come in sizes starting at 3.5 to 7 inches. I like the 5-inch size with a big 6/0 Gamakatsu belly weighted hook.

I continue to catch numbers of smaller bass with a larger fish thrown in for fun. Catching fish that clients or I actually see on my Lowrance Electronics is my favorite video game. Use a drop shot rigged with a Big Bites Shakin’ Squirrel or a Lanier Bait’s Fruity Worm.                                                                                                                                 

Night fishing is getting good for both bass and stripers. Cast a SPRO McStick or a Long A Bomber to points for stripers from sundown to about midnight is a great way to spend a week night or weekend night and the fishing is picking up. The cost for a night trip is $200 for you and a friend. Just email me at esaldrich@yahoo.com. I instruct anglers about knots, lures, locations and other fishing stuff!

Striper fishing is much better than normal for this time of year.

Live herring or medium sized gizzard shad are working well fished on both flat and down lines. Attach a ¼-ounce split shot to a flat line. This will allow the herring or shiners to swim a little deeper. Some guides are pulling planner boards and are using four to six or more rods at a time. Pulling planner boards allows you to present your baits on flat and down lines and cover a wider area than just trolling behind the boat.                                                                                                                      

Keep a top-water plug ready to cast at all times. Very often we set the boat down and the herring scatter, and that triggers stripers to school on the surface. A Redfin on a spinning reel is a very good choice.

Your Lowrance Electronics and keen eyesight will give away the best areas this week. If you see a lot of surface activity, you should have found where the stripers are located. The smaller stripers and bass will drive bait to the surface in the better areas. First use your Lowrance Electronics to determine that the bigger fish are present and drop herring or other live baits on both down and flat lines to the level where you mark fish.

Continue to troll, because it will help you locate the schools of fish and it often is the best method recently. Pay close attention to your electronics while you troll. If you see a few arcs or wavy lines that indicate fish, adjust your depth as needed. Down Riggers make this process easy. That being said you can still adjust depth by adjusting the lengths of your lines. Use a Captain Mack’s Umbrella rig or a SPRO Bucktail and run your boat at around 2.5 mile per hour.

Crappie fishing continues to improve slightly with the shorter light hours. You can bet that the cooler weather will only make fishing for these tasty panfish better and better. Look in the creeks near clear water, pockets with deeper docks and any drains that have docks with brush.

Target larger brush or big trees lying in the water around medium deep depths, from 15 to 25 feet. Locate older docks with bigger brush piles. If the dock has a light close to the water and rod holders, it probably has brush. With my Lowrance Structure Scan, it’s easy to find the exact location of brush.

Bank Fishing: There is something really exciting and kind of hypnotic about watching a bobber — the anticipation of a bite. One of my favorite baits to use on a bobber is a standard, medium-sized, store-bought minnow. Grab a Styrofoam minnow bucket and buy a couple dozen.

The main reason the minnows are my favorite is because they move the bobber around. When they get nervous you can see the bobber shake. The second reason I love the bobber and minnow combo is because it will catch just about anything that swims. You may catch a ½-pound brim on one cast then catch a 5-pound bass on the next. Go old school and go fishing!

Eric Aldrich is an outdoor writer, marketing specialist, guide and bass angler. He is currently booking teaching trips for Lake Lanier’s spotted and largemouth bass. Reports are based on personal experience and permission from a close network of friends. He would love to hear from his readers, so please email him at esaldrich@yahoo.com  Remember to take a kid fishing! 

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