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Lake Lanier fishing report: Crappie fishing on the rise
Eric Aldrich
Local bass angler Eric Aldrich poses with a fish he caught. - photo by For The Times

Water Conditions:  Lake Lanier’s water level is up from last week’s level, and is at 1,068.72 feet, or 2.28 feet below the normal full pool of 1,071 feet, though it’s still rising from rain inflows before this weekend. Water temperatures are in the lower 50s. The main lake and creeks mouths are clear to slightly stained. The creeks and rivers are clear to very stained from rain inflow. The Chattahoochee River below Buford Dam is almost clear. Check generation schedules before heading out to the river at 770-945-1466.

Bass fishing has been decent for numbers, but the bigger spotted bass (4 pounds or more) have been a little harder to catch. The lake temperatures have held in the lower 50s for several weeks, and we are catching bass from 5 to as deep as 55 feet. There has been a good ditch bite as well as some bigger schools of fish that are relating to rocky bluff walls.

The fish in the ditches are doing the same things as last week. Target the shallower rocky banks early in the day and stay with the shallow bite until the bass back out deeper as the sun gets high in the sky. Alternate between a SPRO RkCrawler and a Little John DD. Some of the shallow ditch fish are feeding on a combination of smaller shad and crawfish. Cast your crank bait up shallower and force it to bump across the bottom. 

We have had some great success this week working the sides of the deep ditches as well as along steep, rocky bluff walls. Use a bottom bumping craw fish imitator like a Big Bites Yo Momma rigged on a 1/4-ounce Big Bites Fintwist or Gamakatsu Alien Jig Head. Target rock around 25-feet deep. Some of the bass we are catching have a very pale appearance, which usually means that they have moved up from deeper water. When the water temps fall into the upper 40s, these same fish will back out deeper again.

The deeper docks have been holding some fish on sunny days. Skip a small jig or a Lanier Baits Finesse worm on a 1/8-ounce Alien Head. The natural blueish or shad colors worms seem to work best around the docks. You can also try fishing with a Yumbrella Flash Mob Alabama Rig rigged with 3-inch Suicide Shads. Try fishing a SPRO McStick with a jerk and pause retrieve along the sides of the docks to promote a bigger fish into striking.

The rocky banks are still holding crawdads, so try to work a smaller jig or SPRO RkCrawler and work your lures along the bottom from 5 to 25 feet deep. Pay attention to your Lowrance Graphs to see how deep you get your bites and concentrate on those depths on similar banks going forward.

Stripers fishing remains good, and the fish are biting at different depths depending on where the bait is located. Continue to use your Lowrance Graphs along with watching the locations where gulls and loons are feeding. Keep moving until you mark bait and fish. When you are not marking bait or fish then continue on to the next productive looking area.

Trolling a Captain Mack’s Mini Rig has worked best this past week because the stripers are targeting smaller shad. As mentioned last week, you can pull baits directly behind your boat as well as on planner boards set to the left and right of the boat. The stripers have been up against the banks early in the day, so run your rigs close to the shore. Run your rigs from 1 to 2 mph.

Keep trolling until you find the striper and baitfish schools. There is not much of a thermocline set up, and that is why the fish are shallow, deep or anywhere in between. Once you locate the proper areas, you can set out your live bait rigs. Medium shiners and smaller trout are working best. Run a trout and a medium shiner on flat lines out behind the boat while also pulling down lines. Let the strikes indicate the best methods and depths.

You can catch stripers on artificial lures like a spoon or a SPRO Buck Tail Jig. Cast these lures out and let them sink to the level where you are marking fish. Add a smaller Suicide Shad as a trailer to your buck tails and work these lures right at or slightly shallower than the depth at which you are marking fish.

Crappie fishing has been good for anglers that can unlock the best depths and locations. The crappie are really starting to school up in larger groups, so if you get a bite stick around that area because there should be many more around.

Continue to employ your Lowrance Structure Scan to find the most productive areas. Some fish have been directly under the docks while others have been located around brush and cane piles midway into the backs of the coves. Continue to move around until you find a school of fish. Once you locate the fish, then you can use small crappie jigs or live crappie minnows on a down line

Bank Fishing: A lot of angler’s fish from the shores of Lake Lanier for large, hard fighting stripers. Locate the steeper banks with drop offs, and cast live bait on either a down line (bottom rig) or under set to 15 feet deep under a slip float. It helps to have the wind blowing from your back out into the lake, because it keeps your lines tight and positions your baits further out in the water column. 

If you want to catch a trophy striper, then try using cut, dead bait. Big gizzard shad make the most productive cut bait, and you can catch your own or purchase frozen baits from your locate tackle store. Stripers and even catfish are suckers for cut bait. Make sure to secure your rods in holders, as a big fish can easily pull your whole rod and reel into the water!

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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