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Lake Lanier fishing report: Prolonged cooler weather continues to improve fishing
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 1,066.71 feet, or 4.29 feet below the normal full pool of 1,071. Water temperatures have fallen into the lower 70s. 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 fishing has been very good at times, and at other times it seems a bit tougher, but if you work at it you should be able to find them biting somewhere. While most anglers long for the fall, top-water action, it’s not always your best bet. The good news is that most days they will bite top-water lures well.

During the day, running and gunning has been working best in my Nitro. Having a milk run of way points marking brush piles, rocky, offshore areas and humps will make this type of fishing a lot more productive. I always keep an eye out for new or unmarked brush or other bottom features to add to my Lowrance Unit’s memory. Most of the brush in fewer than 30 feet of water will hold at least one or two catchable bass, but not every pile will be loaded. This is why you want to fish through several areas before you hit the motherlode.

When approaching a productive looking area, make several casts with a top-water plug or subsurface lure like a Sebile, Big Bites Jerk Minnow or my personal favorite, an SPRO McStick. If the fish are there and you can get the school to activate, you may be able to catch several before they disperse or settle back down into the brush.

If moving lures don’t enlist a bite, move up over the brush and scan it with your Lowrance 2/D and Down Scan to see if the fish are present. Use a drop-shot, Ned Rig or even a jig and drop it down to any fish you see on the screen. Remember that the fish you see on your fish finders are not always bass. Stripers, brim, catfish and crappie all love to hang around brush.

I have had several night trips this past week, mostly for stripers but we are also catching plenty of bass after dark on SPRO Jerk baits and Crankbaits. Make long casts to windy banks out around the islands and in the creek mouths below Browns Bridge. Email me at esaldrich@yahoo.com or PM me on Facebook to book a trip!

Striper fishing rates good to very good. The stripers are schooling in the creek mouths throughout the day. Utilize your fish finders and also keep a keen eye out for any schooling activity you see. On calm, clear sunny days, you can see stripers exploding on the surface as far as a half mile away.

The fish are staying up longer this week, so if you see them schooling, fire up the big motor and get to them quickly. Cast surface plugs like a Sammy, Zara Spook or a Redfin to any action you see. While we all love to see the top-water strike, subsurface lures may actually outperform top-water plugs. Cast a SPRO Bucktail, Sebile Magic Swimmer or a Bomber Long A to the action and hold on!

Trolling is still a great way to cover water, and it may be your best method for catching fish all day long. Try pulling a full-sized umbrella rig over main lake humps and points from Gainesville Marina all the way down to the dam to locate and catch stripers.

Pulling herring on flat lines and planner boards has yielded some great results when you are around schooling fish. Set out lines and either drift with the wind or move around with your trolling motor so that your herring swim naturally. If you see fish on your electronics that are deeper than 20 feet then you may wish to switch over to down lines.

After dark, we are averaging between five and 15 stripers from 7 p.m. until Midnight. Cast SPRO McStick 110’s or the Bomber Long A’s with three sets of treble hooks. I switch the stock saltwater hooks out for #2 Gamakatsu Trebles. The sharper hooks really increase your hookup ratio. Many strikes will occur as the stripers try to “kill” the baits. They will hit it with their sides or even head butt your lures without hooking up. It keeps things interesting as you will usually get twice as many strikes as hookups.

Crappie fishing has improved, and the fish are reacting to the low 70-degree water temperatures by moving up into the 10 to 15-foot range around docks with brush. Shooting small Hal Flies up under docks that are holing crappie or fishing live minnows under floats has started to produce fish in the mornings and later in the day.

After dark, try fishing the green Hydro Glow lights around docks or set out your own lights around bridge pilings in the backs of the creeks.

Bank Fishing: In fall, stripers and bass can be found shallow and close to the banks of Lake Lanier. Grab a top-water plug and start walking the banks of your favorite park. Make casts around points, rocks or any trees lying down in the water.

Other lures will work well to from the banks. Just make sure you have fresh line and a well casting fishing outfit. If you catch a fish don’t walk past that area too quickly. Bass and stripers run in schools so if you catch one there may be many more in that same location.

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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