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Lake Lanier Fishing Report: Stay on the move to catch active bass
Eric Aldrich
Local bass angler Eric Aldrich poses with a fish he caught. - photo by For The Times

Lake Lanier’s level has fallen to 1,072.02 feet or 1.02 foot at a full pool of 1,071. 

Lake surface temperatures are in the mid-to-lower 70’s. 

The main lake and creeks mouths are clear to slightly stained.  

Most of the creeks are very stained in the backs. 

The rivers are stained to muddy from recent rains.

The Chattahoochee River below Buford Dam is really looking ugly, but it’s just a normal process, so no reason to worry. 

Parts of Lake Lanier have completed the turnover, while other locations are right in the middle of the process. 

Still many areas, especially up north have just barley started the turnover or lake stratification. 

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

Bass: As fall progresses, bass fishing has been picking up. 

The past week’s weather fronts seemed to include a little bit of everything. 

From mild weather all the way through heavy rains and thunderstorms. 

Still, the shorter daylight hours and the crazy weather we have really triggered Lake Lanier’s bass to start feeding up for winter. 

It’s just a great time of year to get out enjoy the fall. 

The great news about this time of year is that the fish are often scattered because there’s really not a definitive thermocline in many areas. 

Bass can be caught in 5-50 feet deep on a variety of lures and techniques. 

The bad news here is the same as the good news. 

The water layers are breaking apart causing the bass to roam around. 

They are scattered everywhere or nowhere due to that thermocline. 

This week, your buddy may catch one on a spoon in 45-feet deep, then a minute later you may catch a bass on a topwater plug close to the bank. 

Bass in fall are often shallow, close to the bank where it’s easy for anglers to cast for them. 

Even with the turnover, Lake Lanier’s bass are still on main lake and creek mouth brush piles in 15-30 feet deep. 

This week a lot of the bass seemed to be hanging around and suspending off away from the brush more than directly inside or directly over in it. 

Stop your boat a good distance away from the brush you are fishing. 

Watch your electronics and pay attention to where and at what depth the fish are located. 

Use this information and use the appropriate lure that runs at the appropriate depth. 

I’ve been using a variety of the Tri-Color Lanier Baits Fruity Worms. 

These baits mimic the old school California style finesse style worms. 

That being said, his more popular traditional finesse style worms produce just as well when anglers fish side by side so who knows? 

The spotted and largemouth bass are really starting to transition into the creeks, coves and pockets from the mouths all the way into the feeder creeks. 

Areas that have fresh water running into them are often prime feeding locations for predator fish like spotted and largemouth bass.

A lot of the fish being caught this week are spitting up big shad and bluebacks ranging from 3-6 inches. 

We have seen wolfpacks of spotted bass groups of 10-20 bass schooling. 

Because these fish seem to be keying in on larger shad, we’ve been throwing the bigger Sammy’s, Super Spooks and even spitting baits like the SPRO Pop 8O.

Stripers: This week has really shown us a variety of conditions and some crazy weather. 

That’s just fine, because along with the weather the stripers are joining in and schooling out in the creek mouths like crazy. 

At times this past week, the weather we’ve had some mild periods where the water was almost glassy. 

The best techniques on calm days are to pull herring on a combination of live herring on down lines, flat lines and planner boards. 

Pull these live bait spreads around the mouths of the creeks. Continue to troll slowly on into the creeks.  

The days when fronts are moving or times when they stall and hang around usually require changing patterns. 

We are seeing large schools busting on the surface. 

This action can be so violent that you can actually see these large fish exploding on schools of baitfish from as much as a mile away. 

We often can even detect these feeding fish in the white caps from long distances. 

It looks like someone is dropping bowling balls from the sky.

We usually get a good topwater bite from stripers that are feeding around the main lake, creek mouth and secondary points and humps in the morning. 

I usually don’t target stripers, except when we can catch them on artificial lures and that time is now. 

During this artificial lure/schooling season, we do a lot of driving and watching our electronics while scanning the surface of the lake for schools of stripers. 

We just keep a plug tied on at all times for anyone fishing. 

I usually keep a couple of Kissel Kraft Bait Casting Rods and a couple of eight-foot Kissel Kraft Spinning Rods. 

Three of these rods will have surface lures like a Redfin, Sammy or Spook. 

I will rig one of the spinning reels with a two-ounce white SPRO Prime Bucktail Jig. 

We will wait until we see the fish busting on top within casting distance. 

Anglers often get ‘striper fever’ which means we get so excited that we make mistakes. 

I always instruct people to take three-long breaths before carefully making an accurate cast. 

It only takes one major backlash with the small bit of line attached to the lure to wrap up every rod and reel and blow an opportunity.

The fall night bite is starting to turn up and these large, hard-fighting fish are feeding heavily after dark. 

Stripers often key into a particular variety of Lake Lanier’s forage. 

The top food sources available are the smaller threadfin shad, the larger-gizzard shad and the illegally-introduced long and tasty blueback herring. 

Depending on where you fish, you may wish to change up lures or even choose to fish live baits. 

My favorite lures are a SPRO McStick 110 in Glory color or a pink Bomber Long A.

Stripers will stay put in an area that holds large schools of threadfin shad because these baitfish cannot move very fast. 

Usually, threadfins in the fall will be located in the coves, ditches and small fingers located toward the backs of the creeks. 

Gizzard shad may be found just about anywhere on the lake and they are often pelagic which means they are vagabonds. 

Herring move around extremely fast and they tend to not stay in any area too long. 

Crappie fishing is picking up. 

Continue to target brush from as shallow as 10-feet on out as deep as 30-feet. 

Fish small crappie jigs on ultralight spinning gear or position directly above the brush and drop a live crappie minnow or native spot tail minnow. Add split shot then drop you minnow below the boat into the brush.

Crappie are also relating to the same dock lights after dark that the stripers and bass are. 

These crappie will be shallow enough after dark that you can sight fish them by pitching a live minnow up to the fish you see. 

You can email Eric Aldrich at with comments or questions.

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