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Lake Lanier fishing report: Fall is a great time to try out new fishing techniques
Eric Aldrich
Local bass angler Eric Aldrich poses with a fish he caught. - photo by For The Times

Water Conditions:  The CORP continues their normal winter drawdown, and lake levels are at 1,066.95 feet, or 4.05 feet below the normal full pool of 1,071. Water temperatures have fallen into the mid 70’s. The main lake and creeks mouths are clear to stained. The creeks and rivers are clear to very stained in the backs. The Chattahoochee River below Buford Dam is very stained due to lake turnover. Check generation schedules before heading out to the river @ 770-945-1466.

Bass: This past week has brought in much more seasonal temperatures — quite a shock from only a week or two ago when we were sweating by 9:00 am and in the 90’s by noon. It is a pleasant change and the fish seem to agree.

The lure and technique for this week is simple. Top-water, top-water and more top-water action! Other lures may work, but it is hard to beat the sight, sound and thrill of a top-water strike! Cast a Zara Spook, Sammy or a Big Bites Jerk minnow and hold on! If the weather is sunny, you may enjoy a top-water bite all day long. When it is cloudy, sub-surface lures may work better.

Be aware that you can’t just go to every point or hump and enjoy non-stop action. While the top-water action is on fire, you can’t just start fishing anywhere and enjoy success. A few things will greatly increase your odds of catching bass. There needs to be a healthy amount of bait present. Shallow flats in 10 to 20 feet of water with deeper water close by are good areas to target. If there is brush, docks or other fish holding cover, that’s even better. A lot of our best areas are located further back in the creeks, but don’t write off good main lake locations.

We have been catching 20 bass or more in a 6-hour trip. My trips involve teaching techniques, and the one thing I have found is that not everyone is skilled at casting and retrieving surface lures. For the best results, you need to make long casts and also be able to retrieve lures at the proper rate. Practice on your local pond. We work on this and other things like the proper use of electronics in my guide/teaching trips.

Other lures and techniques are also working well. Keep a drop-shot rig ready while casting to bass breaking on the surface. With my Lowrance units, I often see fish below the boat, and these bass are suckers for a drop-shot rig. Use a Big Bites Shakin” Squirrel or a Lanier Baits Fruity Worm dipped in JJ’s Magic. Subsurface lures that mimic herring or shad are also great lures to try. Retrieve a SPRO McStick 110 or try a Big Bites Suicide Shad, and reel these lures with a medium steady retrieve. A willow leaf spinner bait is also a good lure for catching bass this week.

The night time bass bite is very good. Try casting a mid-to deep diving crank bait like a SPRO Little John DD or a RkCrawler. Cast these lures up shallow around rocky banks and slowly retrieve them along the bottom. A lot of strikes will occur while the lure is digging up the bottom or when the lure breaks free into deeper water on its way back to the boat. Email me at and book a trip!

Striper fishing rates from fair to very good. Some days are better than others, and anglers who can make adjustment are the ones that will be successful. These fish are thrashing the surface along with the bass, so keep a top-water plug ready at all times!

A large percentage of stripers will be located in less than 30 feet of water around humps, points and large flats close to deeper water. Use your Lowrance Electronics to locate the best areas. In other areas, you may find the stripers deeper, so let your electronics dictate how deep to fish. 

Trolling a full-sized Captain Mack’s Umbrella Rig over productive areas is a great way to search for stripers and may be your best bet for boating fish all day long. Run your boat at around 3 m.p.h. A lot of your bites will occur as your rig speeds up or slows down while making turns. If you notice that this is the case, then you can mimic that action by slowing down and speeding up your boat while running in a straight line.

Once you locate a productive looking area, you can deploy herring on flat or down lines. Set out two lines from the front rod holders with down lines and set two flat lines out behind the boat. Let the wind push the boat. Many anglers will troll with herring, which I feel affects the natural action of your baits. That being said, I have seen anglers slow trolling herring with planner boards who catch a lot of fish. Fish within your comfort level, and you should be able to put a few fish in the boat this week.

I have had many questions about the night time Bomber and McStick bite, and it is just getting ramped up this past week. I have been scouting some areas, and it had been slow, but this weather change has flipped a switch, and the stripers are starting to eat well along the shorelines after the sun goes down. Fish the backs of the creeks around lighted boat docks or head out to main lake and fish around the islands.

Crappie fishing should pick up well when water temperatures drop into the lower 70’s and upper 60’s. For now, continue to target the deeper brush and work small jigs or live minnows, and fish through the brush located from 15 to 30 feet deep. Your best luck may come by fishing the green Hydro Glow lights after dark. Get a couple dozen medium sized shad, and cast them around the lights.

Bank Fishing: We anglers probably own lures that we don’t truly believe in. Fall is a great time to try new techniques, because the fish are active as they feed up and put on weight for winter.

I remember a client who had a whole tackle tray of beautiful deep diving crank baits that he commented on that he never used. I suggested he take those lures and fish them through tough locations like brush and laydowns. He said “But I may get a snag and lose it”. I pointed out it would be no great loss since he didn’t use them anyway. A couple of years later we ran into each other and he said that he is now a diehard crankbait angler. He said he fished them in tough areas and started catching fish.

For me, that unused lure was a buzz bait. I mean, what the heck is a fish thinking? It does not look like a bait fish or anything else I have seen in nature. I remember my first strike on a buzz bait and I was hooked for life! 

Go through your tackle box or visit West Marine and pick out a lure you wouldn't normally use. Take it to your local pond or Lake Lanier and give it a few hours of use and see what happens!

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 himat  Remember to take a kid fishing! 

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