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Lake Lanier Fishing Report: Bass fishing wanes while striper fishing heats up
Eric Aldrich
Local bass angler Eric Aldrich poses with a fish he caught. - photo by For The Times

Lake Lanier’s water level is just above full pool at 1071.17 or .17 feet above the normal full pool of 1071. Lake surface temperatures are in the mid to upper 80s. Main lake is clear and the creeks are slightly stained. The water in the rivers is slightly stained.

The Chattahoochee River below Buford Dam is clear. Check generation schedules before heading out to the river at 770-945-1466.

Bass fishing rates run from fair to good, depending on who you ask. The surface layer of water is very warm, which means a large portion of Lake Lanier’s spotted bass will be found deeper and away from the banks. That being said, there are still some shallow spotted bass and largemouth that can be found close to the banks early in the day. 

This is the time to utilize your Lowrance Electronics to locate and mark brush from 20 to 35 feet deep. Most of the spotted bass will be hanging right around the thermocline, which my Lowrance Carbon 12 and 16 shows to be around 27 feet deep. The thermocline is where the cooler bottom layer of water meets the warmer surface layer.

If you are serious about catching spotted bass in summer, then invest some time locating as many brush piles at the 20 to 30 feet depth. This practice will pay dividends for future trips. 

Utilize Structure Scan to locate brush and set your cursor to where the brush’s shadow lines start. Continue to add waypoints and mark as many of these off shore honey holes as possible. I have literally thousands of brush piles marked all over the lake.

When approaching your GPS waypoints, stop the boat about a cast away from the brush. Then make casts over the brush with top water plugs, spy baits and deep diving crank baits. Try casting a SPRO Little John DD 70 and the newer Little John 90 to the brush and work these lures over and through the brush. The DD 70 will run down to 18 feet deep and the DD 90 will run as deep as 25 feet. These crank baits will fool the biggest bass in the school.

After working over the brush, drop a Lanier Baits Fruity Worm on a drop shot rig in the brush. Use a braided line, like a 16-pound Sunline SX1, for the main line with an 8 foot leader of 7-pound Sunline Fluorocarbon attached with a SPRO Swivel. You will often see the fish rise to intercept the worm as it falls on your screen, but most strikes will occur as the bass follow it down to trap it against the bottom.

We have also been catching some bigger largemouth shallow early in the day on a jig or a buzz bait. These big mouth bass are eating brim, and this is probably your best bet for catching a big bag. Cast these lures to any bank cover like laydowns, stumps, docks and rocks and work them parallel to the bank.

If you really want to catch a lot of bass this week, consider using live bait like spot tail minnows. Throw some cracker crumbs or grits around beach areas then throw a fine mesh cast net once the minnows show up. Once you catch a few dozen, head out to the deeper brush. Hook these minnows through the lips on a drop shot rig; drop them down to the brush and hold on.

Striper fishing has been very good for anglers that can find the deeper schools of fish. The stripers are deep, and they are relating to the blue back herring schools from the thermocline layer at 27-feet down to the bottom. Follow the creek and river channels that run through Lake Lanier’s flooded timber. 

The same deal that worked last week continues to produce stripers this week. Purchase several dozen herring and make sure you have your bait tanks set up to keep your baits lively. This involves the right combination of water, non-chlorinated ice and an air stone to supply dissolved oxygen to the water. In the hot summer weather, your baits must stay cool enough to keep them alive.

Plan on watching your Lowrance Electronics until you locate the arcs or wavy lines that indicate the deep striper schools. Don’t waste your efforts deploying herring until you locate the active schools of stripers. You must find fish because they will rarely find you.

Use a heavy 1- to 2-ounce weight to get your herring down quickly through the warmer upper layer down to the cooler water below the thermocline. 

Use a 20-pound mainline of Sunline Monofilament attached to a smaller diameter 12-pound Sunline fluorocarbon leader. The standard down line is basically a Caroline rig with a weight, swivel and 10 to 12 foot leader. The longer leader will help catch stripers that may be “line shy”. When you find a school, deploy your down lines to a level just above where you mark fish on your electronics and place your rods in a rod holder.

The power reeling technique continues to produce some arm breaking strikes. Drop a big Ben Parker or a smaller Lake Forks spoon below the level of the fish that you see on your electronics, and then reel them up quickly through the fish. 

Other lures will also work. Try a 2-ounce SPRO McStick with a Big Bites Suicide Shad; use this in the same way you would the larger spoons.

Crappie fishing has been very slow during the day, but you can still catch them as long as you locate the deeper brush or timber edges in 25 to 35 feet deep. Your best bet for catching a mess of fish is to fish under lights after dark. 

Lighted boat docks that have green Hydro Glow style lights will pull the deeper crappie into the shallows. You can also set lights out around the bridge pilings. The best bait to use are native spottail minnows, but store-bought crappie minnows and medium shad will also work well. Set down lines from 10 to 20 feet deep. Once you catch a few fish, set your lines to that same level to try and duplicate where the active slabs are hanging.

Bank fishing: The trout are biting well below Buford Dam during periods when the CORPS is not generating water. The trout bite is best early in the day at sunrise and again toward dark (night fishing is not allowed in Georgia trout waters). Live earthworms fished on a weighted line are a time-tested catching technique. Remember that by law, you can only use one hand held rod on trout waters. Casting a dry fly or a small Rooster Tail on light line will fool these stocked trout. Target the deeper pools or areas behind current breaks for your best results. After the sun gets high in the sky, the action will slow down, but the cold river water makes it a pleasure to be out on these hot summer days.

Eric Aldrich is an outdoor writer, marketing specialist, guide and bass angler. He is currently booking teaching trips for Lake Lanier’s spotted and largemouth bass. Reports are based on personal experience and permission from a close network of friends. He would love to hear from our readers, so please email him at esaldrich@yahoo.com. 

Remember to take a kid fishing.

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