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Lake Lanier fishing report: Cooler temperatures means better fishing
Eric Aldrich
Local bass angler Eric Aldrich poses with a fish he caught. - photo by For The Times

The lake level is at 1,068.57 feet, or 2.43 feet below the normal full pool of 1,071. 

Lake temperatures are in the low 80’s, but they should be dropping lower with the more seasonal weather we expect for this week. The main lake and creeks mouths are clear with some stained green water in areas. The creeks and rivers are clear to stained. The Chattahoochee River below Buford Dam is slightly to very stained. Check generation schedules before heading out to the river at 770-945-1466.

Bass fishing has improved and the cooler weather temperatures certainly will help fishing. For now, even this short period of cooler weather has already brought both bass and smaller stripers to the surface. Spending 8-12 hours in the boat will be much more enjoyable when the temperatures stay below 90 degrees.

Start your days by casting topwater plugs, jerk baits or other moving lures around rocky humps and points. There will be some shallow fish as well as some fish on the surface over deeper water. These bass are trapping herring and shad against the surface. I have caught my best fish on a SPRO McStick Jerk bait, retrieved with a medium-steady retrieve or a Big Bites Jerk Minnow fished on the surface.

The same topwater action will go all day when it’s overcast. Even if it is sunny, you should keep a topwater plug ready at all times. A Chug Bug or a Gunfish are great lures to cast over brush piles or at any schooling activity you see. I have also enjoyed great success with a Big Bite Baits Suicide Buzz Bait on the main lake. This buzz bait has a long Suicide Shad trailer and will really bring some big fish to the boat.

When the fish are not schooling, you may need to go deeper to catch them. I have thousands of brush piles entered into my GPS. With that 12-inch Lowrance Screen set to traditional 2D imaging, I can see both my locations and see what is below the boat well on a large split screen. Use a drop shot like a Big Bites Shakin’ Squirrel or a Lanier Baits Fruity worm in and around both shallow and deep brush. Another back up to the drop shot is to back off the brush and cast a SPRO Little John DD crank bait and to just “tick” the top of these deeper brush piles.

Night fishing has really started to turn on. As stated in recent reports, you will have the whole lake to yourself. The SPRO Little John DD in Citrus Shad or Black/Blue is a go-to lure for fishing after dark. Also try casting a Blue Heron Lures Chatter Bait. These lures put off a lot of vibration that the bass actually feel before the get close enough to see.

Striper fishing remains good. We are already seeing changes due to the shorter daylight hours and the cooler weather and water temperatures. The stripers are working their way shallow where they are easier to catch. This week the stripers seem to be on three patterns: Trolling, live herring on flat and down lines and some topwater action is also starting to appear out on the main lake. 

Keep a surface or subsurface lure ready at all times.

We have started to see and catch some stripers with topwater lures. I have not seen the 1/4-acre schools with hundreds of stripers which will appear soon. Instead the stripers are mixed in with the bass that are corralling herring and shad on the surface. Cast a Chug Bug, Redfin or the ole’ reliable SPRO McStick. Cast to any surface activity you see.

Trolling is great right now and remains a good searching-and-catching technique that will help you cover water to locate the larger schools. The fish have been a little more shallower. Run your umbrella rigs at 7 or 8 colors at around 2 1/2 mph. The Captain Mack’s Mini Umbrella Rig has worked very well when trolling this week. You can also try single lures like a SPRO Buck Tail or s BBZ1 4-inch Sinking Shad. If you have a down rigger, it will really help you to put lures at an exact depth.  

Pay close attention to your Lowrance MFD’s. So, what the heck is an MFD? MFD stands for “Multi-Functional Display”. We no longer call them fish finders because your units can do so much more. With my 16-inch Carbon unit, you can tap into your computer on your engine and see real-time, accurate gauges. You can also see radar and Google Maps overlay. If you install an auto pilot helm, these units can actually drive your boat and send out AIS information so other boaters can avoid you or you can avoid them. Almost all modern electronics run on NEMA 2000 networks. All that being said, they still do an awesome job of locating fish, too.

You can troll or just ride and watch your electronics to find the lagers schools of stripers. Once you locate the fish, then set out both flat lines (just a hook tied to your main line) or a down line (a weighted main line with a leader and hook). Because the fish are moving toward the surface, you may catch them anywhere in the water column. 

You should try dropping your herring on the down lines, then power reel them through the school to trigger reaction bites from stripers before you switch out baits.

There are a lot of smaller stripers showing up around lighted docks. These fish average from 3-5 pounds, but they are still fun to catch. Cast a Bomber Long A. SPRO McStick, small SPRO Buck Tail or even casting herring on a flat line to the lights.

Crappie fishing has barely improved, but look for it to get much better to the winter. Continue to fish after dark around Hydro Glow dock lights. During the day, look for the crappie in the creeks around brush piles located from 20-30 feet deep.

Bank Fishing: The weather is changing. The fish are moving shallow and it’s a great time to spend some time walking and fishing the trails below Buford Dam for trout. Even if your family does not enjoy fishing, they will enjoy a walk in the woods and around to see the huge dam that holds Lake Lanier’s water.

The river has some slight color to it, but the trout are still biting. Live earthworms fished on a long line with a 1/8-1/4-ounce split-shot placed a couple of feet above a small Aberdeen style hook. Cast your live worms to any deeper holes located below the rapids and runs. Live bait is permitted down to the Hwy. 20 bridge.

Other lures like a bright colored Rooster Tails, Count Down Rapalas, Yo-Zuri Minnows and bright colored flies are working. Cast these lures around the rapids. Fish them just fast enough to feel resistance on your lures. If your fly fish, pay attention to any fish rising near rocks that you can see above and below the surface. 

Remember that if you wade in the river, you will need to wear a Coast Guard approved floatation device. If the fishing slows, consider taking your family to the Buford Dam Trout Hatchery located on Trout Place Road during business hours. The hatchery holds thousands of trout and is located in a beautiful setting.

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 Remember to take a kid fishing. 

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