Water Conditions: Lake Lanier’s water level is down slightly at 1,067.30 feet, or 3.70 feet below the normal full pool of 1,071. Water temperatures are around 60 degrees and falling. The main lake and creeks mouths are clear to stained. The creeks and rivers are stained from lake turnover. The Chattahoochee River below Buford Dam remains very stained due to lake turnover. Check generation schedules before heading out to the river @ 770-945-1466.
Bass: The weather, water temperature and bass fishing has changed a little after the recent cold spell. There is still an aggressive topwater/swim bait bite in some areas at certain times, but we have switched gears a little to keep up with catching them. Some fish are coming from shallow, and some are deep. We have been targeting the shallower fish.
You should be able to find some decent fishing from the mouths of the creeks and on back into the ditches and coves closer to the middle or back of the creeks. The fish are feeding mostly on blueback herring and threadfin shad. Longer profile jerk baits that mimic herring like a SPRO McStick and smaller shad-shaped crank baits like a Little John MD have been scoring some bites.
The docks are also holding some fish during the days. Target docks that have shallow feeding flats locate close to deeper channels. Skip a Big Bites Jerk Shad or a Lanier Baits Blue Lilly Fruity Worm on a 1/8-ounce alien head around docks. Also fish these same worms around rocky banks and transitions zones like rock to clay or clay to sand. If brush is present, even better. Watch your Lowrance Electronics to determine if the cover, fish and bait are present. If so, slow down and dissect these areas with a Fruity Worm on a jig head or drop-shot rig.
We have also been catching plenty of bass while night fishing for stripers with SPRO McSticks. Cast Bombers and McSticks to both rocky and sandy areas around the islands below Browns Bridge after dark.
Stripers: Fall is an essential time for utilizing your Lowrance Electronics. The water temperatures are often the same in both shallow and deep water because the lake is still turning over. You may find fish in under 15 feet to over 50 feet deep. Keep your options open and be prepared when you hit the water. Lot’s of techniques are working, but like the weather, conditions have changed from day to day.
This week, the top-water bite remained strong early and sporadically throughout the day. These are the fish I prefer to target. Even with the colder weather, the stripers can still be up on the surface. Keep a surface lure like a Gunfish or a Redfin or try a shallow running lure like a SPRO McStick or Sebile Magic Swimmer.
Stripers will often appear in schools about three or four casts from where your boat is located. If you can get to the fish fast with the trolling motor, that is the best way to approach a school. Often, you may need to use the bigger motor to close the distance, but try to shut it down and use you trolling motor a cast or two away. Running a boat directly into a school of fish on the surface with a big motor will often cause the school to sound and disappear. Your best option is a stealthy approach.
Anglers are catching stripers with a variety of techniques. Flat Lined Herring will work best for fish located at under 25 feet deep. If the fish are deeper, then position down lines just at the depth where you mark a school of fish. Stripers usually look up to target their food (that’s what “they” say!) so position your baits accordingly. Try trolling or casting a Captain Mack’s Mini Rig around the schooling fish in the creek mouths.
If you locate an area with top-water activity as the sun goes down then switch over to a Red Fin, SPRO McStick or a Bomber Long A after the dark and run the banks closest to the area where you witnessed fish while the sun was up. Cast around the islands in the mouths of the creeks or try areas inside the creeks that have lighted boat docks.
Crappie fishing has been up and down this week. I feel this is not because the fish are not feeding, but instead are moving around due to the extreme cold fronts. That being said, if you can locate a hungry school, you may be able to catch enough for fish taco dinner – Yummy!
Look around docks close to feeding flats and deep water. These best docks will have brush under them and even beaver hutches built into the docks. While these busy beavers torment dock owners, they create awesome fishing areas. Shoot small Hal Flies or Big Bite Baits crappie jigs and tubes.
Get out late and catch crappie from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Locate or deploy a Hydro Glow dock light. Shoot small jigs or try live minnows with just a light Gamakatsu Aberdeen hook through the lips. Use a light enough rod that you can cast these small minnows to the lights. Feed out line, and allow your minnows to swim naturally. These small offerings will reward you with crappie, white bass, brim, bass and even stripers!
Bank Fishing: Some of my best fishing has come from smaller waters. We used to catch 3 to 5-pound bass swimming in small ditches where beavers had dammed a creek. If your home is located in a subdivision or rural area that has ponds or lakes, then your best fishing may be closer than you think. Make sure you have or ask permission to fish these areas. We used to offer to pick up trash or do some sort of chores and practice catch and release to gain access to farm ponds.
Smaller waters can hold some big fish. Some of the fish in the ponds have never seen a lure. I caught my biggest bass, an 11-pound bass out of a lake that was only about an acre wide. These smaller waters are great places to cast aggressive lures like a buzz bait, big spinner bait or maybe even a BBZ1 Rat Surface Lure.
These smaller lakes and ponds will usually have panfish, bass and catfish, so your options for catching are very good so pick your favorite fishing lure or live bait and go catching instead of just fishing!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org Remember to take a kid fishing!