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Lake Lanier Fishing Report: Fall-fishing patterns working well with bass
Eric Aldrich
Local bass angler Eric Aldrich poses with a fish he caught. - photo by For The Times

The winter drawdown slowly progresses.

Lake Lanier’s water level is 1,069.90 feet, which is 1.1 feet below a full pool of 1,071. Lake surface temperatures are in the high 50’s.

The main lake and creeks mouths have ranged from clear to stained.

The upper rivers range from slightly to very stained.

The Chattahoochee River below Buford Dam is slowly starting to clear up but still shows a greenish tint.

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

Bass fishing has been good.

The fish seem to be settling into their true fall patterns.

This is the time to move out away from the banks and venture out a little deeper.

With good electronics and by remaining confident, you will eventually run into a big school of bass.

A large percentage of Lake Lanier’s bass population will stay out in water depths between 25-60 feet for the next few months.

These same fish will school at different depths throughout the day as well as venture shallow.

Keep a rod with something you can cast ready for any opportunities that surface while you also fish lures deep.

I had a recent angler that was grilling me with questions about “what are ditches?”

After I explained that a ditch could be the first finger ditch, the secondary ditch that runs through a flat or any other channels ranging from small to big creek and river channels didn’t seem to be the right answer.

He said “So any concave deep spot can be a ditch? How do I know which ones are the right ones to fish?”. Electronics, I replied. That and dropping a lure down to fish glued to the bottom that react to our lures.

Anglers who pay attention to certain details can often locate the best areas before ever shutting down their big motor or switching on their electronics.

Birds that eat fish are excellent indicators that you are in the right ditches.

Watch out for loons, kingfishers, gulls and Herron that are roaming the shores.

These birds will give away the best locations all through the winter months and into spring.

If you have been out fishing in the past week and located good areas, then those same places should still be holding fish.

The bass have been chasing shad and herring to the surface right in the mouths of short pockets and cuts in water 10-25 feet deep.

The prime areas seem to be coves and pockets that are located midway back into the lower and upper lake creeks and on into the rivers.

We will target a rain wash and follow these into the other ditches that empty into smaller creek channels that eventually empty into the larger creek and river channels.

These are bass highways that allow fish to follow and trap their prey.

Start your days casting a SPRO McStick or Little Jon DD to the banks where ditches flow through large flats.

Keep a lure ready to cast as well as a Fruity Worm on a drop shot rig, Damiki Rig or Georgia Baldes Shepoon to drop down to any fish you see on your electronics.

Follow these indentations out deeper as the day progresses. Pay close attention to where you see any surface activity as these fish have been active in the afternoons.

Some days the fish really turn on to the jigging spoons.

I have had some 20-40 fish days.

We will also catch a variety of fish including bass, stripers, yellow perch and even some huge catfish.

I have been sticking with a ½-ounce Georgia Blades Shepoon.

These spoons have a prop that keeps them from fouling the lines.

You can also cast them like a fast-moving spy bait cast to schooling fish.

Other days you may need to employ Fruity Worms on a dropshot rig, Damiki Rig or a ½-ounce SPRO Bucktail to fish the bottom and all depths in between.

You can still catch a few bass on topwater lures, but that action is slowing way down.

Striper fishing has been mostly good, but the fish are reacting to moving weather fronts that range from extreme cold fronts, rain and bright bluebird skies.

The good news is that we are seeing better water quality and there are a lot of shad and herring in the pockets and around main lake ditch and creek channels.

The stripers are ranging from shallow to around 60 feet this week.

Trolling a Captain Mack’s Umbrella Rig remains a great way to not only cover water and find fish, but a consistent way to catch them.

Troll your rigs are 2-3 mph and pay close attention to where you mark fish.

Circle back around through areas you are marking fish and adjust your speed and depths accordingly.

The stripers are corralling bait in the pockets early and late in the day.

You can cast a SPRO McStick 115 or v-wake a redfin to secondary points on back into productive areas.

Flat lines herring have also been deadly.

When the stripers are corralling bait, they will let you know. If you don’t find all of these tell-tale signs, then keep moving until you do locate fish.

Herring seem to be the best baits, but I did a live bait trip where we caught them on small shad, too.

Flat and down line the herring. If you are fishing shad, put them on a weighted rig close to the bottom.

We have located several areas where you can just drop bait and stay put all day long.

Remember that it’s always best to keep a line wet, but don’t get too comfortable.

If you don’t catch fish in 30-45 minutes move on to more productive water.

The night Bombers/McStick bite has been better in the creeks.

Target lighted boat docks.

We have caught plenty of stripers around standard incandescent as well as the Hydro Glow style too.

Crappie: The crappie are biting at a variety of depths and on a variety of techniques.

We have caught several styles of panfish including white bass, crappie and yellow perch while fishing with spoons from 35-55 feet deep.

Using a jigging spoon can be very effective to catch a variety of fish.

There are still some good fish relating to deeper docks toward the backs of the creeks.

Fish the docks with brush by shooting and casting small crappie jigs or jigs tipped with a crappie minnow.

Keep moving until you start to catch fish, then stay in those same areas as these fish are grouped up.

You can email Eric Aldrich at with comments or questions.


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