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Lake Lanier Fishing Report: Use live herring to capitalize on active crappie bite
Eric Aldrich
Local bass angler Eric Aldrich poses with a fish he caught. - photo by For The Times

Lake Lanier’s water level continues to hold steady and water quality continues to improve. 

The current level 1,070.53 or .47 foot below the normal level 1,071. 

Lake Lanier’s surface temperatures have fallen this past week and range from 50-54 degrees. 

The main lake and creeks are clear and the rivers and upper lake creeks are stained to very stained from recent rain inflow. 

The Chattahoochee River below Buford Dam remains slightly stained, but has continued to improve. 

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

Bass fishing has been fair this last week. 

Anglers who are adept at deep water fishing and have good modern-day electronics, like my Lowrance HDS 12 and 16-inch monitors, can stumble upon a mother load of fish when they find the bass grouped under the shad schools in the creeks and pockets.

The ditch bite is what most anglers are relying on this week. 

The term ditch simply refers to any concave depression that flows into the lake. 

These can be drainage ditches coming off of depressions on the banks caused by rain, channels that run through otherwise featureless bottoms or even creek and river channels. 

Study your Navionics maps on a tablet or your electronics screen of your GPS mapping.

Try to get on the lake and be shallow where these ditches end along the shoreline at daybreak. The predator fish like bass and stripers will coral bait against the banks early in the day. 

If these ditch entrances have rock or any other cover, like brush or laydowns, that will be a definitive plus.

Work moving lures shallow at daybreak, like a Fish Head Spin with a 3 1/2-inch Big Bites Suicide Shad, A SPRO Little John MD or DD crankbait or a McStick or McRip Jerk bait around where the ditches meet the shore. 

On overcast days, these fish may stay shallow later in the day.

After the early morning bites subside, we have been pulling up our trolling motor and idling through the creeks and pockets to locate the large clouds or bait. 

With my Lowrance’s 16-inch screen, I can set part of the screen to show traditional 2D imaging along with my Structure Scan side imaging to locate schools or bait or fish out to the sides or the boat. 

My third window will be set to show my Navionics Mapping, which can confirm which areas are holding fish.

Once you locate the shad, it can be hard to find the exact location where the bass will be. 

The bass often sit directly on the bottom, so they can either eat wounded shad that fall to their level, or they will get active and coral the bait into balls where the bass can feed upon them.

Try to find ditch or creek intersections or significant structure, like timberlines that have large schools of bait. These areas are worth fishing a spoon or dropshot, rigged with a smaller Lanier Baits Fruity Worm in natural shad colors or pinks or blues.

Drop your lures directly below the boat and watch them descend on your electronics screen as the fall. 

The most productive depths have ranged from 30-60 feet deep. 

Once your lure descends and hits the bottom, either pop your spoons up and down or shake your dropshot offerings. 

If your locations are right, you can often see the bass come off the bottom, either as your lures fall or after you hook one fish. 

The fish will show up like wavy lines which we often refer to a ‘sketti’. 

If the bass are there, continue to work your vertical lures to trigger more bites.

Other techniques that have also yielded some bites are to target offshore brush and work a jig or dropshot rig through the brush. 

With the water levels approaching 50-degrees, you need to work your lures very slow to trigger bites from inactive fish. 

Stair stepping a jig down steeper, rocky banks has been producing some bigger bass that are feasting on crawdads.

On windy days, cast a SPRO 110 or your personal-favorite Jerk bait to wind-blown points and bluff walls that allow deep water access. 

Cast these lures with the wind at your back. 

Reel down the jerk bait a couple of feet, then work these lures with a hard jerk-and-pause retrieve. 

Vary your cadence. Let the bass tell you what they prefer.

Striper fishing has been very good for anglers that can find the best locations. 

Use the same method as mentioned above to find the bait. 

The stripers should be in that same area. 

The upper lake creeks have been holding some massive schools of threadfin shad and blueback herring. 

Because stripers love cold water, they usually show up easily as arcs or ‘sketti’ on your electronics. 

The gulls and loons will often be around the best areas. When you see the birds actively diving and feeding on bait, then you are in the right area. 

The best methods this past week have been to use live herring or trout on down lines. 

You can also drag a couple of flat lines behind the boat or fished out to the sides with planner boards. 

You can use a weighted line or a free line (no weight just a hook and bait) on your planner boards to cover a wider area, which will increase your odds for getting bit. 

Run your flat lines on planner board on the shallower side of the boat. Run your weighted lines on the deeper side.

Trolling a Captain Mack’s Mini Rig has also been an effective method for catching stripers in the same areas as mentioned above. 

Keep a SPRO Buck Tail on a spinning rod with 14-pound Sunline Fluorocarbon to cast to any surfacing fish you see.

Bank fishing: You can catch a variety of fish like bass, stripers and even catfish from the bank with a bottom rig and live or cut bait. 

Eric Aldrich is an outdoor writer, marketing specialist and bass angler. 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 Remember to take a kid fishing.

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