Lake Lanier Fishing Report: Bass anglers experiencing wide variety of results
Local bass angler Eric Aldrich poses with a fish he caught. - photo by For The Times

Lake Lanier’s water level remains constant at 1,065.61, or 5.39 feet below our normal full pool of 1,071. Lake surface temperatures are presently in the high 50s. 

The main lake and creeks mouths remain clear. The creeks, pockets and rivers are stained from the turnover. The Chattahoochee River below Buford Dam still looks like pea soup due to lake turnover. Check generation schedules before heading out to the river by calling 770-945-1466.

Always remain grateful. The fall colors are at, or a little past, peak, and the days have been warm. So get out to the lake over the Thanksgiving holiday. 

Whether you have a boat or walk the banks, take your family or a friend and out to see God’s handy work this holiday weekend! I am thankful for you reading my reports. God bless.

Bass Fishing: Depending on who you talk to and where they fish, bass fishing has been anywhere from awesome to bleak. One thing is for sure: The bass are biting somewhere close to anyone fishing Lake Lanier during Thanksgiving week.

The guides are posting awesome shots of their electronics with huge schools of “sketti,” or the telltale lines and arcs that indicate thick schools of fish in 40 to 60-or-more feet deep. These deep fish will eat a Hopkins or Flex-It jigging spoon fished with a lift or pop-and-drop cadence. 

Drop your spoon to the bottom, reel it up a foot or two, then pop it and follow it with the rod tip back to the bottom. Repeat.

I like to use heavy 20-pound Sunline Fluorocarbon and a medium-heavy, 6 ½-foot Kissel Krafts Custom Rod equipped with a Lew’s Speed Reel. The faster reel allows you to gain line on a fish when it strikes and to retrieve your spoon quickly for another drop. I replace the stock hooks with #4 Gamakatsu Wire hooks. You can easily retrieve your spoon with the heavy line and re-bend those super sharp wire Gamakatsu hooks.

The good news is the shallow and mid-depth action are also happening, so pick your strengths shallower too. The fish are pushing shad up into the ditches early, and this action will only get better as the weather cools. Grab your SPRO lures and under spins, and work the shallower features in your favorite ditches early in the day.  

The bass continue to eat jigs and jig head worms all day long. Concentrate on steeper banks in the pockets around docks and laydowns that meet the deeper flats and ditches at around 25 to 35 feet deep. Stair-step your jigs or worms down the drops and wait to feel for subtle bites.

No matter how or where you’re fishing, always keep two additional lures on deck at all times. You can always pick off a few extra fish with your electronics and a drop-shot rig, but don’t discount power-fishing methods like a swimbait, SPRO McStick or a top-water plug for aggressive fish that can appear on the surface at any time during the day.

There has also been an awesome crank bait and black spinnerbait bite after dark. Retrieve a SPRO Little John DD through the rocks on steep banks and hold on.

Striper fishing has been pretty good all week. You can locate fish both shallow and deep, so keep an open mind and let the aquatic birds and your Humminbird Electronics lead you in the right direction.

We have seen a lot of loons and gulls working in the creeks both below and above Browns Bridge. Unlike too many of my own outings, these birds aren’t going to waste time working unproductive water. They know where the bait is, and you can bet the predator fish are also close by, picking off the same herring and shad that loons and gulls disperse or miss.

You can pick your poison and probably catch stripers this week, but learn a lesson from the loons. These beautiful birds communicate and work schools of bait quickly and efficiently. Once they have eaten or driven the bait away, they move on to more productive waters. 

The birds, our electronics and even surfacing fish are the clues we anglers need to keep us “in the zone.” When you feel like you’re fishing dead water, you probably are.

Once you locate fish, it’s hard to beat live bait on either a line, planner board or down line. Drop a lively herring, gizzard shad or trout to the proper level to entice the stripers into biting. 

I like to flatline trout in fall because these smart fish will find the most oxygenated level of water. The stripers on main lake seem to be eating medium to larger herring and trout, while the shallower stripers seem to prefer smaller baits. 

We shot some video recently, and the stripers are still biting the McSticks and Long A’s both around the islands and back in the creeks around lighted boat docks.

Crappie fishing remains good, but only for those talented anglers that can worm crappie jigs and minnows in brush from 15 to 30 feet deep. 

It pays to mention that a few crappies have been showing up both shallow after dark and very deep, mixed in with the bass that are schooling out at 50 feet or deeper. The shallower fish will eat a crappie minnow below a slip bobber around lighted boats docks. The deeper slabs — and there have been big ones — have mostly been caught while spooning for bass.

Trout fishing remains slow below Buford Dam as the lake turnover just continues. 

This pea-green water does hold plenty of trout, but you may need to work to catch them. Fish the rapids and the pools below them as the faster water flow adds oxygen.

A lot of North Georgia trout streams are fishing very well. Trout spawn in late fall and early winter, so look for the possibility of a trophy trout in the right waters. Both dry and wet flies will work because there are hatches and preemergent all over the streams in fall.

Bank Fishing: It’s time to start getting your bank striper gear ready. Get out your PVC Rod holders and put fresh line on your reels. The stripers are moving into the creeks, rivers and coves where bank anglers can easily reach them.

Bank fishing has become an art. While many bank anglers will work 10 or more lines, I prefer two or three at the most. 

Cast a live trout or big shiner from a deep bank. Try to find an area with the wind at your back so you can float at least one line at 5 to 15 feet below the surface on a slip bobber. Set at least one other line on a Carolina Rigged sinker and leader with a bait on the bottom.

The reason for using only two or three rods is that unless you just have a prime “honey hole” where the fish come in, you can keep moving as needed to find active fish.

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 esaldrich@yahoo.com Remember to take a kid fishing.

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