Lake Lanier Fishing Report: Bass fishing remains strong for anglers
Local bass angler Eric Aldrich poses with a fish he caught. - photo by For The Times

Lake Lanier’s level is falling and is at 1,064.96 feet or 6.04 feet below the normal full pool of 1,071. 

Lake surface temperatures rose into the low 80’s last week but have dropped back down nicely into the mid 70’s. The main lake and creeks mouths are clear. The creeks and rivers are clear to stained. The Chattahoochee River below Buford Dam is clear. Check generation schedules before heading out to the river at 770-945-1466.

Bass: Fishing remains consistent this week. Many techniques that have been producing are still working well, with the addition of some good shallow fishing in the coves and creeks too. The lake appears to be trying to turn over in some areas, but there is still a thermocline on the main lake. The fish are schooling on both herring and shad. A variety of lures in different sizes will work.

Spybaits continue to score numbers of bass out around main lake points, humps and rocky banks. A Spybait is a very basic, skinny-bodied hard bait with small propellers on the front and back. These are simple lures to use but you may want to stick with one for a trip or two to truly get confidence. I fished with my daughter, Nancy Rowe, today and she used a Spybait to outfish dad 5 to 1. Cast the Spybait toward schooling fish or over brush, let it sink 5-10 seconds and just reel it medium steady back to the boat. You can achieve similar results casting a SPRO McStick 110 or a McRip 95. 

The problem with the Spybait is that there are so many schooling fish in the fall. It can be hard to chunk a finesse lure on a light spinning tackle when huge bass are blowing up all around you. We have seen pods of 3-5 pound largemouth bass chasing gizzard shad in the backs of the creeks. There have also been some huge schools of 20 or more spotted bass crushing herring over points, humps and even open water in the creeks. When this happens pick your best lure, even a Spybait and stick with it until the bass tell you otherwise.

Topwater lures, buzz baits, spinner baits, swim baits and jerk baits all get the thumbs up this week. Hit your best areas and move if you don’t get any action or witness schooling fish within 10-15 minutes. The best surface action has been from daylight until around 11:00 a.m. then again from 3 p.m. until just before sundown. Switch over to a crank bait or big black spinner bait after dark and beat the banks.

The dropshot bites remains very strong, but as mentioned above it’s hard to look down at your graph when bass are exploding within casting distance. For my drop shot, I use a Shimano spinning reel on a medium weight 7’2” Kissel Krafts Custom Spinning Rod. At the business end goes a Big Bites Shakin’ Squirrel, Lanier Baits Fruity Worm or Robo Worm on a No. 1 or No. 1/0 Gamakatsu Aberdeen style hook. Use straight 7-pound Sniper Fluorocarbon for both, then main line and your leader line. 

Stripers: There are a lot of stripers in the creek mouths and around the islands all the way from Cleveland Highway on down to the Buford Dam. Get out at daylight and cruise around. You should see some schools working early and also later in the day toward sundown. If you were able to find stripers on top this time last year, then you should see them in the same areas right now. 

There has been some great schooling action and topwater striper fishing is hard to beat. Cast Redfins, Sammys, Spooks or your favorite personal herring imitator to any schooling fish you encounter. Other subsurface lures like Bomber Long A’s, McSticks or buck tail jigs will also work well when cast toward fish that are thrashing on the surface. 

Surprisingly, the herring bite has been a little more sporadic. Maybe it is because the thermocline is waning or it could be because the fish are just moving around so much. With that said, herring can save the day too. Be prepared with a few dozen and try running a combination of flat, down and planner boards lines to cover the water column. 

Trolling can also save the day. 

Fish a 1-2-ounce SPRO Buck Tail on a Cannon Down Rigger from 15-20 feet deep. Switch things up and try a SPRO 6-Inch BBZ1 on these same down riggers. You can also try pulling a Captain Mack’s Umbrella Rig at the same depth or 7-8 colors on lead core at 2 1/2 to 3 mph. Trolling is a great way to cover water while looking for schooling fish

The Bomber Bite that went away last week seems to be on the resurgence. Cast a pink Bomber Long A or any color SPRO McStick 110 or 115 to windy banks around main lake islands after dark. 

Crappie fishing should pick up, but as of this week it remains slow. Dissecting deep brush piles with small jigs or a spot tail minnow on a drop shot rig will get you a few bites early or late in the day. Look for the fish to move into shallower brush when the water temperatures reach 70. 

Some smaller fish are being caught after dark on small jigs around Hyrdo Glow lights on docks around the lake. Please remember that the dock owners of the lights may or may not be ok with us anglers fishing around them. Make sure to be quiet, polite and be prepared to move on if the owner or someone else is fishing there. 

Trout fishing is a little slow but anglers should be able to coax enough bites to make a trip worthwhile. The river and stream flows are a little low this month due to the lack of rain. Look for any weather fronts to turn on the fish. Right now, a top (dry fly on the top) and drop (wet fly on the bottom) rig may be your best bet. There have been some insect hatches in the afternoons, so if needed match the hatch with a very small dry fly. 

Silver and grey or white colored spinners like a 1/8 to 1/16 Rooster Tail can work very well in the fall, especially below the Buford Dam. These tiny offerings match the small shad that get washed through the turbines. Fish as slow as you can, just fast enough to keep the blades spinning.

Bank Fishing: Plastic worms have probably caught as many bass as all the other bass lures combined. Buy a pack of 3/0 offset Gamakatsu Hooks. Get a pack of 1/4-ounce bullet sinkers and a pack of six-inch Big Bites Watermelon Finesse Worms and hit your local pond or Lake Lanier. 

Learning to fish a worm is more about patience than anything else. Start out rigging your worm Texas style. Thread the sinker loose on your main line, then tie on your hook. String your worm very straight with the hook tip buried to keep it weedless. Cast it out, let it fall to the bottom then work it slowly back the bank. 

Use a sensitive rod with a medium-speed reel and high-quality Sunline Fluorocarbon to feel those subtle bites. A worm bite feels like a small “tick” or like a bream biting. When you feel this, give it some slack, feel the rod load up, then set the hook.


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 readers so please email him at esaldrich@yahoo.com.

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