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Lake Lanier Fishing Report: Crappie catch booming while others remain inconsistent
Eric Aldrich
Local bass angler Eric Aldrich poses with a fish he caught. - photo by For The Times

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is keeping Lake Lanier’s level constant at 1,065.64, or 5.36 feet below our normal full pool of 1,071. Lake surface temperatures are presently in the low 60s. 

The main lake and creeks mouths are clear. The creeks and rivers are stained-to-very stained from the final lake turnover. The Chattahoochee River below Buford Dam is still stained as lake turnover hopefully finishes up. Check generation schedules before heading out to the river by calling 770-945-1466.

Bass fishing has been up-and-down this past week. 

On my last few outings, I have had some good days, while at other times it has been hard to catch five decent keepers. Most parts of the lake are in the last stages of turning over, while others are just really getting going. The fish are scattered both shallow and deep, so it pays to find cleaner water and to make sure baitfish are present.

The best pattern for my bass fishing has been to use moving lures early in the day, then to re-employ them throughout the day during active feeding periods. 

SPRO McStick 110s or McRip 85s have been a good producer before the sun is over the horizon. Cast these lures around ditches, point, humps and steep rocky banks. Other lures like Fish Head Spins, swim baits, McSticks or Redfins are also good choices.

After the early morning bite slows, the dock bite in the pockets and creeks has been pretty good. Small jigs or a Gamaktsu Alien Head with a Big Bites 6-inch finesse worm dipped in JJs Magic are hard to beat. Concentrate on the docks that have a channel or ditch with both shallow and deeper water close by. These ditches, or indentations, offer bass a great commute to and from the best feeding areas.

Other methods are working, so keep an open mind. You may catch five bass on five different lures. 

Spotted and largemouth bass are feeding as they prepare for winter. Spotted bass are opportunistic feeders, and they may bite a small crawdad for one meal, then crush a 6-to-8-inch blueback herring for dinner. If you land a lure close to them, you are sure to get a bite.

Striper fishing has been very good some days and just fair-to-slow on others. Most of the stripers schooling on main lake are targeting smaller blueback herring and larger threadfin shad. The ideal bait size seems to be 3-to-4 inches.

Herring can move surprisingly fast, but the stripers that are chasing them have no problem keeping up. 

That’s often not the case for us anglers who chase the stripers. You may see stripers exploding on bait just a couple casts away, only to reappear 100 yards away just about the same time you reach where they just were. 

Oftentimes, multiple boats will be chasing a school, which just keeps the bait and stripers moving that much more. Combat fishing may be fun for some, but your hookup rate will be much better if you can find an unmolested school and stay far enough away to land a cast to them, but not so close that you make them descend.

In fall, stripers really react to moving weather fronts. It pays to fish on days right before or during a weather front. No matter what type weather you’re fishing in, keep a couple top-water plugs tied on at all times. 

The stripers are schooling right now, and if you can land a lure near the schools on the surface, you’ll probably catch a few.

Live bait has been working well. Smaller trout, bluebacks and medium shiners fished on flat or down lines have been working well, too. 

Remember that your electronics are your eyes below the water, giving away the large schools of stripers that swim below your boat. Start out with a combination of flat and down lines. When you dial in on what the stripers want, then switch over to what is working. 

It’s a good idea to set out two flat lines or planner boards along with a couple down lines. The stripers can be at any depth this week, so make sure to cover all of your bases.

The night bite has been just OK this week. Target the windy banks around Lake Lanier Islands, Three Sisters and any of the islands located in the creek mouths below Browns Bridge. You may also find stripers in the backs of some of the creeks around lighted boat docks. 

The best action occurs from 7-11 p.m., so you can fish and still be home in time to get a decent night’s sleep and go to work the next day.

Crappie fishing is good, and anglers who can work the deeper brush piles can catch some fat, healthy slabs of crappie for dinner.

Cast small crappie jigs to deeper brush from 15-to-25 feet deep. You can also down-line live minnows around this sunken brush.

Trout fishing has been a little tough below Buford Dam. The lake turnover is still keeping the water quality a little off, but it should start to clear in December. Brighter-colored lures and flies will trick the trout into biting this week.

Bank Fishing: Anglers can walk the banks with a spinning outfit to catch a variety of species right now. 

Make sure you use a quality fishing rod and reel, and make sure to have a full spool of fresh line. Eight-to-10-pound Sunline Natural Monofiliment is a great choice. Bring an assortment of lures like Rooster Tails, small crank baits, a top-water plug, some jig heads and straight tail worms. 

Some fish are very shallow this time of year, and you can’t beat a day enjoying the fall colors and some great fishing.

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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