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Lake Lanier Fishing Report: Stripers biting well along the surface
Eric Aldrich
Local bass angler Eric Aldrich poses with a fish he caught. - photo by For The Times

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been doing a good job of keeping water levels within a foot of full pool.

Presently, Lake Lanier’s water level is 1,070.59 which is .59 feet below a full pool of 1,071.

Lake surface temperatures are falling and are presently in the mid to upper 60’s.

Lake stratification or ‘turnover’ that started a while ago is finishing.

The water quality shows noticeable improvement.

The main lake and creeks mouths are clear in the mouths, but they vary from slightly stained to very stained or muddy as you run further back into the creeks.

This past week’s rain inflow has helped to flush out Lake Lanier.

This natural process of rain inflow and outflow in fall regenerates the stagnant water quality that occurs during the lake turnover period.

The backs of the creeks are muddy.

The Chestatee and Chattahoochee Rivers inflow will continue with this weekend’s projected rains.

The Chattahoochee River below Buford Dam is varying from slightly stained right at the dam to a muddy, mucky looking brown color that gets worse the further you ravel south.

The river looks better than in previous months as lake stratification wraps up.

The Lake Lanier Trout Hatchery is still closed.

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

Bass fishing reports have rated all over the place.

Some bigger tournaments have recently produced multiple five-fish limits that have totaled over 20-pounds each boat.  

Add to this that there were also many teams with limits in the mid-to-high teens.

Most of these five-fish limits consist of all spotted bass.

Many native anglers think that fishing for a living must be easy and that it must be a rockstar style of life.

Anglers need to understand that these pros work consistently work well over 100 hours a week during fishing season.

If you think that you’re a natural, then you better bring your ‘A-game’.

Plus, they also need huge financial support.

These pros frequently compete against the best ‘local sticks.’

The best locals are often humble, even the best full time professional anglers.

That also go the other way.

At the end of the day, only about 15 percent of the field take home a check. Even less end up banking more cash than they withdrew.

Fishing, especially successful fishing and catching, requires hard work, passion and the willingness to apply yourself 100%.

Right now, the fish will bite well, but identifying what patterns are waning and what new patterns turning on takes practice and lots of it.

If you keep casting and keep your lines and lures wet, then you will eventually know when you should run and gun or stay and play.

We have seen fish schooling in the coves and fingers located close to only to find the fish different temperature and oxygen layers.

Lake Lanier’s bass and striper population can tell that colder weather is right around the corner. They know it’s time to start feeding before winter arrives.

We have boated several bass in the 4-5 pound range this week. Many anglers never catch a five-pound spotted bass, so any day you catch one that size is a great day.

We are still starting our days shallow casting jerk baits, crank baits or even surface lures, like a SPRO Pop 80 or even a buzz bait.

The bass are on the move, following bait fish.

It seems that two types of locations are holding the best concentrations of spotted and largemouth bass and you will frequently catch both from the same school or area.

Pay close attention to rain drains, depressions and small feeder creeks located around the entrances of coves and pockets that have large underwater flats.

Ditches located running through pockets out on the main lake can also be gold mines.

Junk fishing is still working for many of my fellow anglers as well as in my boat, too.

Spinner Baits, Crank Baits, Jerk Baits and even different styles and sizes of swim baits will all catch fish when they are actively feeding.

One lure has been working well during both active and inactive feeding times.

Night fishing for bass continues to be red hot.

I have had a couple of slower day time trips this week, but as the moon rises, fishing for bass with SPRO Little John DDs, RkCrawlers and a large Colorado Bladed Spinner Baits worked slow and steady along the bottom will produce both good numbers and big fish.

Stripers have been appearing on the surface all over the lake.

This action is best early and later in the day, but keep your longest-medium heavy outfit spooled up with 12-20 pound test monofilament and be prepared.

Keep a casting lure ready at all times this week.

Lures like Redfins, Bombers, McSticks or your favorite topwater plugs will all work when you cast to fish busting shad and herring on the surface.

Stripers and the shad and herring they chase are mostly pelagic.

They follow the bait, instead of hanging around under water structure and cover.

During the lake turnover period, you may find some fish on the surface, while marking fish in the same school swimming over 100 feet deep.

Buy your bait and supplies well before dawn so that you will be on the lake before sunrise.

Start your day around main lake islands and also from the creek mouths all the way on into the backs of the creeks.

Don’t expect to count on following the birds.

It’s been a mild fall, so far, and the gulls have not showed up quite yet.

Pay close attention to the clues you gather while on the lake.

Always watch your MFDs (fish finders) while keeping a keen eye peeled out towards the horizon.

People with good eyesight and a little experience and knowledge can often see these fish thrashing the surface from a good distance.

Recently, most of these striper schools have been on top for a brief period of time, but they have been sounding quickly.

They often surface several times in the same area.

The past few days, they have seemed to be harder to find but when you do, they have been staying up longer.

Trolling has been decent all day long, but it can also be a grind.

Troll an umbrella rig in the 10-15 foot range.

Troll at around 3 mph but pump the engine slower and faster to impart some action of your jigs and trailers.

Flat lined herring have also been producing some strikes early and mid-day around creek mouth humps and points.

The night time Bomber/McStick bite is still good.

I like a long rod, like my Kissel Kraft Custom Bait Casting Rod and a Shimano or Abu Garcia Reel.

I use 20-pound Sunline Natural Mono for casting a Bomber Long A or the same line in 15-pound test when
casting a SPRO McStick 110.

Cast these lures to the shore around main lake islands or back in the creeks around lighted boat docks.

Cast your lures, engage your reel, then and retrieve your lures slow and steady and hold on.

Crappie fishing is good.

Start your days at dawn and try trolling, ‘spider rigging’ or ‘lake raking’ midway on back into the creeks that have slightly stained water.

Trolling for crappie is an underutilized method on Lake Lanier that works well in fall.

Anglers who get things right can load the boat and do so quickly.

Troll your shortest poles from the back of the boat and stagger them with the shortest on back and the longer ones toward the front.

Troll two jigs on each rod at just around 1 mph with your trolling motor.

There are also a fair amount of crappie and brim around docks and shallow brush in the creeks.

You can catch these fish on minnows or cast small crappie jigs to the prime locations.

You can email Eric Aldrich at with comments or questions.


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