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Lake Lanier Fishing Report: Get out on the water early for best haul of bass
Eric Aldrich
Local bass angler Eric Aldrich poses with a fish he caught. - photo by For The Times

Lake Lanier’s water level continues to slowly fall, which is normal in the summer. 

Currently Lake Lanier is at 1,069.5 feet or 1.50 feet below a full pool of 1,071. 

Lake surface temperatures are at normal summer temperatures in the high 80’s. 

The main lake and creeks mouths are mostly clear. 

Rivers are clear, but they can turn to very stained from rain inflow from afternoon thunderstorms. 

The Chattahoochee River below Buford Dam is clear. 

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

Bass fishing has rated from fair to good. 

With the warmer water temperatures and the thermocline at around 25-30 feet, the majority of the fish are seeking out this cooler water down deep. 

Remember that bass actually eat more in the warmer months, but they can be harder to find out deep.

Lake Lanier is a blueback herring lake now. 

Bluebacks have provided a unique situation in the summer because these baitfish hang around the deeper, cold water below the thermocline. 

These long slender baitfish that were introduced in the late 1990’s and have changed our fishery for the better in summer.

Start your mornings out as early as possible. 

Try to be on the water before daybreak or sleep in and start fishing around noon. 

There’s been a brief feeding period first thing in the morning, but before noon the fishing has seemed to be tough. 

One of the reasons for this is because damn generation doesn’t usually occur until later in the day. 

When Buford Dam generates water, the lake water receives current, which activates these fish into feeding.

During non-generation times, the best lure by far in my Nitro bass boat has been the dropshot rig. 

We are fishing these brush piles in water 25-45 feet deep. 

For some anglers, this seems to be extremely deep, but consider that’s probably only the distance of one or two bass boats length.

Running and gunning deeper brush piles has been the best method before noon. 

Use your electronics and position your boat directly above the brush. 

You will see tell arcs or wavy lines that indicate the presence of fish. 

If you don’t detect the presence of fish, it’s often better to just keep moving until you do.

My dropshot set-up has been as follows: I use a Lanier Baits tri-colored worm in blues or red colors. I hook these Fruity Worms on a No. 1 Gamagatsu Aberdeen style hook. I use an 18-24 inch leader of 7 pound Sunline Fluorocarbon attached to my 16 pound Sunline Sx2 Braided main line. 

I attached a 3/8-1/4 ounce weight to the bottom of my leader. 

I fished this set-up on a medium-weight 7 foot, 2 inch Kissel Krafts Custom Rod with a 2500 series-spinning reel.

In the afternoons or anytime the Buford Dam is generating power we have been using subsurface lures like spy baits or soft plastic swim bait to coax fish that are actually active over brush at the same depth as mentioned above. 

Not every brush pile holds fish, so it’s important to keep running and gunning until you locate the areas where fish are schooled up.

Other methods that have been working fairly well are deep-diving crank baits, jig and pigs, or other lures that can get down below to the level of the thermocline.

Night is a great time to get out to beat the heat and the crowds. 

Target lighted boat docks that are in 15-50 feet of water. 

Fish a Georgia blades 1/4-ounce jig close to the bottom or a SPRO Little John DD to trigger bites after dark.

Striper fishing is rated from good to very good for the anglers who can find the deeper schools of stripers in summer. 

Once again, we’ll look at the thermocline and use that 25-30 foot depth as a beginning point to find stripers. 

Like bass, the stripers are feeding on blueback herring that can be from 25-105 feet deep.

Your electronics are essential tools for finding stripers in the deeper water of the summer. 

Target areas in the creek miles and main lake drains. 

If you don’t see baitfish or stripers on your electronics, keep moving until you do.

It’s essential that you have live herring the entire time that you’re fishing. 

Keeping the bait healthy is extremely important for success. 

Purchase several dozen blueback herring during your trip to the bait store in the mornings. 

Ask the suppliers to suggest the proper amounts of ice and salt along with a quality bait tank to keep these baitfish lively during your fishing outing.

I like to use a main line of 20-pound test Sunline natural monofilament attached to a 10-12 pound Sunline Fluorocarbon leader and attach it to a No. 1 or 2 Gamakatsu Octopus Hook. 

Use as long of a leader as you can get away with. 

The stripers in summer tend to be line shy. 

Use a heavier 1-2 ounce weight to ensure that you can get your baitfish through the warmer upper layer of water into the cooler water below the thermocline. 

Change out baits every 10 minutes or anytime you feel that your bait is not lively.

It’s quite common to get on some stripers for a short period of time only to have the school move. 

Stripers can swim a long distance, but will often be in similar areas to where they were previously. 

Once again your electronics are your friend. 

Keep a watchful eye out on them at all times.

Other methods are working well like trolling large two ounce SPRO Bucktails or power-reeling large spoons, like the Ben Parker or Lake Fork spoons. 

We have had better luck with the smaller Lake Fork spoons. 

Striper fishing after dark can also be very good. 

It is a great way to beat the crowds. 

Purchase a quality Hydro Style light in position your boat in the creek miles. 

Unlike fishing during the day, nighttime fishing under a light will pull the fish to you where you can catch them.

Crappie fishing remains slow, but you can still catch them during the dog days of summer. 

Anglers adept at fishing small jigs or down lining live minnows can catch these deeper fish but it takes patience.

The best option may be to fish after dark for these tasty critters. 

Put out lights around deeper docks or bridge pilings and down line live minnows at the depth that you mark fish on your electronics.

You can email Eric Aldrich at with comments or questions.

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