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Lake Lanier Fishing Report: Target ditches, creek channels to bring in the most bass
Eric Aldrich
Local bass angler Eric Aldrich poses with a fish he caught. - photo by For The Times

Lake Lanier’s water level actually rose slightly, for a change, from the recent rain. 

Lake Lanier is currently at 1,066.44 feet and rising, which is 4.56 feet below full pool of 1,071. 

Water temperatures have remained in the mid-to-high 50’s. 

The lake is clear on the main lake and slightly stained to very stained in the rivers and creeks where rain runoff occurs. 

The Chattahoochee River’s color is improving, which should help with trout fishing. 

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

Bass fishing rates from good to very good for anglers who find the right conditions. 

We continue to target ditches and creek channels this week, but have also had success out on main lake points and shallow humps that have quick access to deeper water. 

When the wind is up or during active feeding times, we are still catching bigger fish on moving baits closer to and out on the main lake. 

Lures like a SPRO McStick 110 or Georgia Blade Premium Spinner Bait will still work well if there is some chop on the surface and the water is clear. 

You can just cast and reel these lures, but you will do better to impart some quick jerks with a slight pause to trigger the fish into biting.

Some of your bigger fish will come when power fishing, but your numbers will be less. 

Other lures like a spinner bait, crank bait or swim bait will also produce well when the fish are active. 

If you are fishing for a five-fish limit and there is some wind, then I would lock that McStick in my hand and hit as many points, humps, brush piles and ditches as you can. 

Vary your retrieves between a jerk-and-pause and medium-steady retrieve. 

Let the bass that bite determines the most productive retrieve.  

You may catch them casting and reeling in the morning, only to find you have to change to a jerk and pause for the afternoon. 

I have gotten hit on a long pause during slow days. 

Make several casts, then move on to the next area and repeat.

The ditches continue to hold better numbers of fish. 

When it’s calm early in the morning or later toward dark, anglers may see shad schooling on the surface in large numbers. 

If so, these locations that hold shad on the surface may be the best areas to fish during the middle of the day. 

The shad that you see on the surface early and late will move out deeper during the day. 

The bass follow them.  

Our better numbers have come from fishing 30-55 feet deep on deeper ditches during sunlight hours. 

These fish will stay schooled up in large numbers, so if you catch one, don’t move too quickly. 

We really rely on our electronics to find these deeper groups of fish. 

Back in the old days, we used to have cast to the banks and fish until we caught something. 

Now, with modern electronics, we may have to spend some time moving around, but we can quickly determine the best areas to fish. 

I keep my 16-Iinch Lowrance graph on the bow to unlock the secret areas where bass are schooled deeper far from the banks. 

It also indicates a time for a change.

Most of the bass we have caught during the day this week are relating to shad out deep. 

Areas that have steeper banks or deeper ditches seem to be best. 

These steep banks or ditch walls give fish a route so that they can follow shad from shallow to deep quickly. 

These deeper bass have been close to the bottom out deeper on sunny days. 

Use your electronics and fish directly over the fish you see out deep.

The best lures and patterns basically have remained similar to last week. 

Fruity Worms rigged on a dropshot, as well as other offerings like spoons, jigs or Damiki Rigs fished directly below the boat have been our go-to patterns this week. 

If you see the fish grouped up on the bottom, then a jigging spoon will often catch larger numbers of bass. 

Sometimes, we drift off away from our best areas, only to look down to see wavy lines or arcs on our fish finders that indicate a school of fish below the boat. 

This is the time to employ your jigging spoons. 

Simply drop them to the bottom, reel them up a foot above and start popping you rod up and down. 

Most of your spoon bites will occur on the fall and if you feel weight, then set the hook. 

I really like the Georgia Blade Shepoon spoons when fish are grouped on the bottom. 

They don’t get tangled up when you snap them up and down as much as other brands. 

I use a Kissel Krafts Custom medium-weight spinning rod spooled with 16-pound Sunline SX1 Braid in bright yellow on my main line with a 5 or 7 pound Sunline FC Leader attached to a SPRO swivel for drop shot finesse fishing. 

I use a black Sharpie to color the yellow line black several feet above my leader.  

This light set-up, along with the bright yellow main line, allow anglers to see and feel anything different. 

Often you may not feel these deep bites but only sense something has changed. Subtle hints that feel “different” often indicate a bite.

I switch to a Kissel Krafts Custom medium heavy to heavy action rod spooled with 15-18 pound Sunline FC for power fishing and jigging spoons or jig fishing. 

Some people may think lighter line is needed for fishing clear water, but the Sunline fluorocarbon almost disappears below the surface. 

I like a heavy action when fishing a jig and the medium-heavy action when spinner baits, jerk baits and jigging spoons. 

Yes indeed! I do talk about sponsor’s products and hope you consider them when shopping but I would never promote things that aren’t working. I also frequently mention products I am not sponsored by which have also worked well that week. 

If you look into a real pro’s tackle box, they will have 10 different brands of the same type of lure ‘just in case.’  

I rarely mention locations, but instead talk about the patterns that have worked all over the lake. 

You may use different brands of lures, line or equipment to work these same patterns or even find patterns and lures I miss that may work better for you. 

My intent is to give some direction that helps anglers who don’t get to the lake a start on what and where to catch fish.

Stripers: Like the water temperature and bass report, striper fishing has remained very much the same. 

With water temperatures remaining in the mid-to-upper 50’s, the stripers are extremely comfortable. 

Fishing has rated from fair to excellent depending on where you fish and what you use.  

Trolling, casting and employing live baits can all work well when you are around the fish.

Like salmon and sturgeon, striped bass are anadromous, which means that they naturally live in saltwater, but they swim up into fresh water rivers to spawn. 

Our stripers go through an unproductive spawning process, but there is no reported reproduction. 

Instead the DNR stocks stripers. 

Our fish tend to be more pelagic, which means they don’t stay in one area but instead, move around as they follow their food source.

The Army Corps of Engineers started damming rivers after World War II to create huge reservoirs to control floods, hold a water supply and use the dams for power generation. 

During the process of building these dams, some stripers were trapped and couldn’t return to the ocean. 

In a few years, bass and crappie anglers started catching or getting spooled by huge fish. 

Turns out that the stripers thrived in certain large lakes and rivers that had either deep or fast running water. 

The Department of Natural Resources saw stocking stripers as a way to control over abundant shad populations. 

Local and state agencies saw a chance to attract anglers who wanted to catch these big fish. 

The DNR started to stock stripers in Lake Lanier decades ago and the fish right now are fat and healthy.

Lake Lanier received an illegal introduction of herring in the late 90s and our striper fishing really received a kick-start. 

Like stripers, herring also move deep or shallower based on water temperatures, oxygen levels and food supplies, like plankton or newly hatched fry. 

Stripers now have a food source year round and they will follow and gorge on herring year round. 

Striper fishing this week is good this week. 

Some of the guides I have talked to have run out of bait in four hours. 

Other anglers using herring or shiners are not catching as many stripers, but instead they are hooking some big bass or other species including the occasional walleye or catfish. 

Anglers should be aware that if you are really on the fish, then you would wish you had bought a few more dozen live baits. 

Medium shiners have also been working which is good because they cost less. 

I advise buying at least a few dozen herring along with a few dozen medium shiners. 

Pay attention to what works best. 

When you find a productive area, fish there until they quit biting or you run out of bait. 

The fish are schooling on the surface early in the mornings, during active feeding and generation times as well as toward sunset.  

Anglers, including myself often get ‘striper shock’ when we suddenly see fish busting on the surface. 

This condition causes side effects like backlashed reels, lures snagged in something we can’t quickly remove or seriously bad casts that result in snagged lures and missed opportunities. 

When you encounter this action, it’s better to take a deep breath and relax. 

Make sure you make an accurate cast to the surfacing fish. 

Keep a SPRO Buck Tail, McStick or E-Pop 80 ready at all times to cast to fish you see swirling on the surface. 

It often takes a dozen or more good casts, so keep on casting and know you may get a massive strike at any moment.

Anglers who are live-bait fishing are catching fish both shallow and deep. 

Both flat lines and down lines baited with herring or shiners are working well, so watch your graph and move if you are not marking fish or bait. 

One of my guide friends ran out of bait. Even though he hates trolling, he started catching them trolling a Captain Mack’s Mini Umbrella Rig in the same areas where they caught them on live bait. 

My best friend used to tell me that while the surface may be calm, a war is going on deeper. 

This is so true in the late fall. 

Your electronics are essential, especially during the day. 

Use them along with paying attention to loons and gulls. 

Keep moving until you mark bait or see the tell-tale arcs on your screen that indicate big fish. 

We are still catching fish after dark in the same areas where they were schooling at dusk. 

These stripers seem to all move to the banks when the sun sets. 

You can still turn you lights on and fish live bait, but casting a Bomber Long A or McStick to the banks and getting a huge strike up shallow is addictive.

Email me if you wish to book a trip casting for stripers after dark at esaldrich@yahoo.com.

Crappie fishing has either been good or tough. 

I have heard reports of one anglers who caught a cooler full from one deep dock shooting jigs, as well as another report from an angler who fishes frequently but got skunked on live bait.

From what I can gather and the short time I was looking for crappie and talking with friends, the fish seem to be shallow and deep based on their locations. 

The main lake has been tough, even though there are some fish relating to docks and brush in the creek mouths. 

The better fishing is occurring off the main lake, back in the creeks and in the rivers.

Shooting jigs under docks with brush in the areas where there is a little rain runoff has scored some good fishing when you find fish with your electronics. 

Using live minnows on a down line will work when you have located a school of crappie. 

Areas with slightly-stained water in the creeks, ditches and pockets seem to be the best areas to find them this week. 

Remember if you don’t get a bite, move around. 

When you do get a bite, stay in that same area. 

The fish are schooled up and eating shad in the late fall, so where you find one, you may find a hundred.

If you really want to catch crappie year round, I highly recommend learning how to ‘shoot’ small crappie rigs on light tackle. 

Serious perch jerkers can shoot a jig from the front of the dock all the way under the gangplank. 

Watch YouTube videos and practice shooting jigs under your garage door to master this technique.


You can email Eric Aldrich at esaldrich@yahoo.com with comments or questions.

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