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Lake Lanier fishing report: Bass tournament anglers converge on Lanier
Eric Aldrich
Local bass angler Eric Aldrich poses with a fish he caught. - photo by For The Times

Lake Lanier remains at a healthy 1,070.69 which is only .31-feet below the normal full pool of 1,071. Lake surface temperatures are in the lower-80s. 

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

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

Please note that the T&H Marine Bass Fishing League (FLW’s weekend series) will be launching out of Laurel Park above Gainesville this Saturday and Sunday. There will be close to 200 boats (400 anglers), not to mention several other small tournaments that will be occurring, so you can bet there will be a boat on almost every point and hump on the lake. Please be safe and courteous while boating this weekend.

Bass fishing has been hit or miss. Anglers need to be prepared to fish hard. It has required dedication to catch even a small limit. Pick your strengths and stick with them until the fish tell or show you something different. 

A top water plug has seemed to work best for the bigger bass but these bigger fish are not easy to come by. Work a Super Fluke, Sammy, Super Spook or other loud noisy top water plug to attract the fish hanging around deeper brush. Early in the day, the fish will be out crushing herring and shad on the surface over humps and points.

Keep a follow up lure like a drop shot, Senko, jig or other similar lures to provoke the fish you missed into striking again. It is my belief that fish that miss your top water lure are probably thinking the same thing we do. “Where did it go? I wish I could have another chance!” When bass suddenly see another lure that looks like easy prey, they will often bite quickly.

If the fish are not schooling on the surface, then use your Lowrance Electronics to show exactly where the fish are located. The majority of fish that I am seeing on my Lowrance Carbon 12-inch bow unit are roaming around and in brush pile from 15 to as deep as 35 feet. You can stay off of these brush piles and cast a deep diving crank bait, a Fish Head Spin rigged with a Big Bites Can Thumper, a SPRO 4-Inch swim bait, spinner bait or other lure and work it over and around brush that you have marked previously with your GPS. You can also cast jigs or Texas Rigged worms past the brush, allow your lure to sink to the bottom and work it over and through the brush to entice fish into biting.

After you have cast to and worked your lures through the brush, move in and position your boat directly above the brush. Watch your traditional 2-D and also Down Scan to pick off these fish with either a drop shot, shaky head or Ned Rig. These soft plastic lures will work well when dropped vertically to the brush that holds fish. My 12-inch Carbon unit actually allows me to see these small lures as they descend on the screen plus it also shows the fish plainly. If you have everything set up correctly, you can actually see your bites before you even close the bail on your reel. This is the most awesome video game I have every played

Striper fishing has been better and there has been a lot of subsurface schooling activity in the off-shore creek and river channels. Quality electronics are a must to find and show stripers that are eating herring from 30 to 80 feet below your boat. 

Trolling umbrella rigs or larger single buck tails continues to produce fish while you are scanning around for the bigger schools. For the best success you will need to get your lures down deeper at around 30 feet deep. The water oxygen levels are best at around 40 feet, so this is a prime depth to target stripers. Even when stripers are congregated at 40-or-more feet they spend most of the times looking up for vulnerable bait fish. An umbrella rig mimics a small bait ball that has been separated from the bigger baitfish school.

Once you locate the arcs or “sketti” that you can clearly see with your electronics, it is time to deploy down lines or weighted flat lines. As mentioned above, stripers are usually looking up to eat and not down so it is better to err to the shallow side as opposed to dropping your herring or other live below where you mark these feeding schools of subsurface stripers.

Make sure to keep a couple of rods rigged with a couple of artificial lures just in case. One rod should contain a top water plug that you can cast far to any fish you see on the surface. The other should be rigged with a subsurface lure like a Lake Forks Flutter Spoon or a one-ounce SPRO Bucktail with a Big Bites Baits Suicide Shad Trailer. Drop the spoon or SPRO Bucktail down deeper through the striper schools and reel them as quickly as possible for some arm breaking strikes.

Crappie fishing is still slow, but better fishing is right around the corner. The crappie seem to be moving up and brush around 20 feet so anglers who are proficient at fishing small jigs in deep water have been catching a few bigger fish early in the day and later about an hour before sunset.

Work small crappie jigs from 20 to 30-feet deep through sunken brush in the back of the creeks. Light line and a sensitive rod are essential for this type of fishing. Cast your lures past the brush piles, let them sink, then work them slowly up and through the branches for your best results. You can also use live store-bought crappie minnows or native spot tail minnows on a downline for good results in these same areas.

Trout fishing remains better in the North Georgia Mountains than below Buford Dam because the lake water coming through the dam has a green tint to it which will get worse as fall rolls in. 

Trout will still strike the same lures as discussed last week. Fly fishermen and women should cast small streamers or dry flies both above and below the rapids. The other “reliable” like an inline spinner, small minnow or crawfish imitator has worked well this past week.

Bank fishing: Catfish are fun to catch, making it for pretty good eating. Bank anglers can catch catfish from both the shores of Lake Lanier or local farm and subdivision ponds. Catfish are very opportunistic and they use their sense of smell to search out a wide variety of prey to eat.

One of the best baits to use is cut shad on a bottom rig. A bottom rig consists of a short leader fished behind a large oval sinker. This is basically the same rig that bass fisherman call a Carolina Rig. You can also use chicken livers and even live shiners on a medium sized live bait hook. 

Here is a trick: ask your wife, mom or sister if they have a pair of old panty hose. You can place chicken livers into the panty hose and tie it into a tight ball that you run a hook through. This will prevent the chicken liver from flying off of your hook while casting but it does not hamper getting bites, because catfish will smell the blood and come in to eat. 

Cast your offering from steeper banks located close to a creek or river channel. Catfish like to stage below deep holes or channels. These areas allow bait to congregate and the catfish are not far behind because they are looking for an easy meal to float their way. Secure your rod holders in a strong fishing pole holder and get ready!


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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