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Lake Lanier fishing report: Fish react to more seasonal weather
Eric Aldrich
Local bass angler Eric Aldrich poses with a fish he caught. - photo by For The Times

Water Conditions: Lake Lanier’s water level is 1,069.37 which is 1.63-feet below the normal full pool of 1,071. Lake surface temperatures are in the low to mid 70’s. 

The main lake and lower lake creeks mouths are clear. The backs of the creeks are clear to slightly stained. The upper lake and rivers are clear to stained and we are starting to see some signs of lake turnover above Browns Bridge. The Chattahoochee below Buford Dam remains stained from lake turnover.

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

Bass fishing is good and the fish are fat and healthy as they feed up in anticipation of the colder winter months. The bass are grouped up in the right locations and if you can find them feeding you can load the boat.

There are still plenty of big spotted bass eating out on main lake humps and points. This is where it pays to have a milk run of productive brush piles located in 15-to-30 feet. My best lure this week has been a Sammy 115 with a front runner set about 2 feet above my plug. 

The front runner is a small shad imitator designed to run in front of your top water plug. You can also take a feathered treble hook, tie it to the main line with a palomar knot and a long leader. Then tie your top water plug on about 2 feet below the treble hook. You will often catch two fish at a time on this rig.

Top and drop fishing has been working well. Cast a top water plug or a swim bait over the brush then move in over the brush and dissect it with your drop shot rig. I have a big 12-inch Lowrance Carbon unit mounted on the bow of my Nitro bass boat. This unit really helps with “sight” fishing while using your Lowrance graph. Rig your drop shot with a Lanier Baits Fruity Worm or a Big Bites Baits Shakin’ Squirrel and dip the tails in chartreus JJ’s Magic.

There have also been some bass moving shallow to chase shad back in the coves and on secondary points. These fish will hit a variety of top water plugs, swim baits and crank baits. My best producer has been to “stupid fish” with a SPRO McStick 110. Just cast this lure to the shore or to schooling fish and reel it medium steady. This plug closely matches the blue back herring that Lake Lanier’s spotted bass population love so much.

Other techniques are also working. Cast a spinner bait to wind blown points. You can also work a shaky head around docks and rocky banks. Crank a SPRO Little John 50 to flats and points that hold fish. You can also cast and work a drop shot rig like you would a Carolina Rig. The bass are also biting crank baits and spinner baits after dark.

Striper fishing is good and the fish are starting to migrate up into the rivers and creeks. That being said, a large percentage of Lake Lanier’s striped bass never venture above Browns Bridge but instead move shallow into the lower lake creeks in winter.

We have started to see some stripers schooling in the surface in the lower lake creek mouths and also up around River Forks. These fish are thrashing shad and herring up on the surface and if you can get a cast into the frenzy you are almost guaranteed to hook up. Keep a rod that you can cast a long distance ready at all times.

Start your day in the creek mouths pulling an umbrella rig as you watch your Lowrance Graph for concentrations of fish. The umbrella rig bite will continue to improve as the water temperatures fall into the high 60’s.

Once you locate a concentration of fish, deploy live herring on flat lines. A flat line is simply a line and hook with no weight. The majority of fish are located in water less than 30 feet deep. Use planner boards to cover a wider path and to increase your odds of getting a bite. You can add a split shot to your flat lines to get them to run a little deeper. Add a live gizzard shad or trout to your spread to entice a bigger fish to bite.

If you are marking fish, then try casting a top water plug, McStick, Bomber Long A or even a SPRO Buck Tail rigged with a Big Bites Suicide Shad. Try making long casts with these offerings, even when you don’t see schooling fish on the surface. The stripers will often come from nowhere to bite a plug!

The Bombers and McStick bite have really started to turn on after dark. This year the water temperatures have stayed in the 80’s well into fall. But now that the cooler weather and water temperatures have fallen into the 70’s, this bite has really turned on. Stripers will feed well after dark up shallow around the islands below Browns Bridge. Catching 10-to-15 fish in one night is not uncommon. Cast your Bombers or McSticks to the bank, reel them slow and steady and hold on!

Crappie fishing is fair, but you can bet some anglers are starting to catch them. The terms “lake racking” or “spider rigging” are phrases that describe trolling with multiple lines. This type fishing does require some planning. Set your longest lines out from the front of the boat, then stagger them shorter towards the back of the boat. Rig your poles with light line from 2 to 6-pound test and tie one or two jigs on each line. Troll these offerings as slow as possible around pockets and coves that contain brush.

Other anglers are shooting light jigs around docks with brush at around 20-to-30 feet deep. Experiment with your depths as they can change day to day. Work your jigs over and through the brush to entice a bite from these tasty critters.

Trout fishing is good. The mountain streams and rivers are clear, but that may change with the rain that is in the forecast for this weekend. Fly fishing is good and anglers should try fishing tandem rigs with a dry fly on top and wet fly on the bottom. This setup allows anglers to cover the entire water column.

The Chattahoochee River and other tail races will tend to be very stained as the lakes turn over in fall. Use bright-colored spinners or try a Yo Suri Pinns Minnow and fish the areas below the rapids. The rapids will stir up the water and will increase the dissolved oxygen content in the water, which will make fish more active.

Bank fishing: Bass are biting much shallower this week, so they can be easily targeted from the shore. Whether you fish farm and subdivision ponds or the shores of Lake Lanier you should be able to get some bites.

Try using lures that won’t get snagged. Cast a top water plug or a spinner bait to any good-looking cover like brush, laydowns, docks or rocks. If you get a bite, don’t just move on down the bank. Make several more casts in the area that you caught fish as you will often get additional bites from the same area.

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 Remember to take a kid fishing! 

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