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Lake Lanier fishing report: Bass and stripers return to school
Eric Aldrich
Local bass angler Eric Aldrich poses with a fish he caught. - photo by For The Times

Water Conditions: For the first time since April, Lake Lanier’s water level has fallen slightly below full pool. We are still at a very healthy 1,070.77 feet, which is only .23-feet below the normal full pool of 1,071. Lake surface temperatures are in the mid to lower-80’s.

The main lake and lower lake creek mouths are clear to stained. The upper lake creeks, pockets and the rivers are also clear to stained.

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

Bass: Bass fishing for numbers has been decent, but the bigger fish have been harder to come by. The water coming out of the Buford Dam turbines is starting to get a green tint, and that means conditions are getting ready to change.

We are seeing more schooling action in the mornings and throughout the day. Anglers should keep a top water plug or swimbait tied on for any opportunities when the fish show themselves on the surface. These schooling fish can appear anywhere, but they tend to orient themselves to brush around humps and points in 15 to 35 feet.

A SPRO BBZ1 6-inch Slow Sink Trout has been a great lure for tempting larger fish to the surface. Cast these lures out around brush located close to humps and points. Other lures like a Sammy or Zara Spook are also great lures to temp bites in these same areas. Cast these lures out over brush that you have previously marked on your GPS before moving in closer to pick apart the brush piles with a jig, shaky head or drop shot rig.

The drop shot rig is still your best set up for catching numbers of fish. Use a 1/8 or 3/16 ounce drop shot sinker with a No. 1 Gamakatsu Drop Shot hook rigged with a Big Bites Shakin’ Squirrel or Lanier Baits Fruity Worm. Drop your rig down to any arcs or wavy lines you see on your screen that indicate fish. You can usually tell if the fish will eat by the way they react to your offerings. The fish will rise to intercept your lure or they will follow it down to trap it against the bottom.

Using my Lowrance Carbon units I can easily see bass both in and around the brush. Structure and Down Scan are great tools which help me to disseminate fish from the branches. When conditions are right, I can even tell if the fish I am marking are bass, brim or even catfish.

Stripers: Striper fishing has picked up considerably, and we have been marking some larger, more concentrated schools in the creek and river channels from Gainesville Marina all the way on down to Buford Dam. These fish are still relating to bait and they are moving around quickly. Trolling Umbrella Rigs or a single large SPRO Bucktail on lead core line has been a good way to cover water.

When you locate concentrations of stripers on your Lowrance Electronics then it’s time to deploy your flat and down lines baited with herring, spot tail minnows or large, store-bought shiners. If you use flat lines, then attach a 1/4 ounce split shot about three feet above your hooks to allow these herring to swim a little deeper. The stripers have been hanging around from 30 to 70 feet over creek depressions, timberlines and creek and river intersections.

Make sure you keep plenty of live bait on hand because the bites can be fast and furious. Switch out your baits frequently, but before doing so, drop your down lined offerings down and power reel them through the fish to trigger reaction bites from stripers.

You can also power reel spoons and buck tails through these deeper schooling fish while your down lines are deployed. Drop your lures directly below your transducer so that you can start your retrieve just as soon as it falls to the deeper fish you see on the screen. This will help conserve time and will also minimize snags in the deeper timber

Crappie: Crappie fishing remains fair at best. There are a few more fish being caught early and late in the day by working small crappie jigs through brush in the creeks from 20 to 30 feet deep.

Your best bet remains fishing around lights after dark with native spot tails or store-bought crappie minnows. Set out your own lights around bridges in the creeks or target-lighted boat docks for your best success.

Trout Fishing: Trout fishing remains good up the North Georgia Mountains and just fair below Buford Dam. As mentioned above, the water below Buford Dam is starting to show the very early signs of lake turnover, which means a lower oxygen content in the dam tail race.

For your best action, visit your favorite North Georgia Trout stream and work small streamers or dry flies both above and below the rapids. Inline spinners and live bait (where permitted by law) are also good bets for catching trout right now.


Bank fishing: Fishing for pan fish is a great way to introduce kids and adults alike to the sport of fishing. Brim will bite a variety of baits and lures, but it’s hard to beat an old, reliable earth worm. Digging up worms is half the fun, and kids will enjoy this process. Dig up earth around mulch piles, gardens and leaves and place them in an old coffee can.

The main mistake that I see most anglers make is to add snaps, swivels or too large of a hook. Use a small Aberdeen style hook and cover it entirely with an earth worm. Attach a bobber about a foot or two above the hook and cast it around laydowns, rocks or docks — both in farm and subdivision pounds or on Lake Lanier — and wait until the bobber goes down or starts to swim away.


 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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