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Lake Lanier fishing report: Fishing of all kinds improving as fish prepare for winter
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 1,069.70 feet, which is 1.30 feet below the normal full pool of 1,071. Lake surface temperatures have fallen into the mid-70s and will continue to drop with the cooler weather forecast for the next week. 

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. 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 remains very good, and this is a great time of year to catch a big-spotted or largemouth bass. The fish are feeding heavily in anticipation of colder weather, and this means you can usually catch fish on the lures that you prefer to fish.

The big-spotted bass are packing on weight both on main lake points and humps into the creeks and pockets. Moving lures like top-water plugs, swim baits, jerk baits or your favorite herring/shad imitator will work where the bait and bass are located.

Knowing the exact location of brush and other bottom composition will greatly help you with your catching. A well-placed cast directly over brush, rock or other fish-attracting cover and structures can make the difference between catching and just casting. Anglers should mark way points anytime they discover new brush. Building a milk run of prime areas on your GPS will pay off for years to come. 

There are two types of areas or styles we have been fishing. The first is to run and gun brush located on main lake and creek mouth humps and points. Cast a swim bait or top-water plug over the brush, and then move over and check it with a Lowrance Carbon-12. If the fish are in the brush, we have been sight-fishing on the screen with drop-shot rigs. The drop-shot has accounted for several extra fish each day.

The second way has been finding schooling fish that are relating to larger flats and bank areas. If you find the right areas, you can basically hang out and catch fish that are relating to the huge schools of shad that move shallower in fall. Early in the day, the fish will be relating to the banks, and as the sun gets up they will move out deeper where you can catch them on a variety of lures. Buzz baits, SPRO McSticks or smaller top-water plugs are all good choices for working on bass that school around shad schools in fall.

If you are lucky enough to find an area where the fish are schooling, hang out a while and catch them. My most productive lure for catching these schoolers has been the reliable SPRO McStick. They will eat top-water plugs like Whopper Ploppers or other lures, but just casting and reeling the McStick medium steady has really been working, even out deeper. 

Striper fishing has changed, and many say for the better. The stripers are moving up shallow, and you can often see large schools of fish boiling on the surface in the creek mouths. Your electronics are still important tools for seeing under the water, but it also pays to keep an eye and ear out for schooling fish. 

Start your day early at sunrise in the creek mouths looking for fish. On calm days, or even on windy days, you may see stripers busting up herring schools just about anywhere on the lake. Keep a top-water plug like a Redfin, Chug Bug or a Zara Spook to cast over points and humps or for casting directly to schooling fish. For a better hook-up ratio, try casting sub-surface lures like a SPRO Buck Tail or a McStick 110 when you see fish schooling.

If there is no surface activity, check to see if your electronics are showing fish. My Lowrance Carbon-16 shows there are a lot of fish in the 15 to 30-foot zone in the creek mouths most of the day. When you locate fish, start pulling bait on down lines directly behind the boat and flat lines on planner boards. This is a great way to cover water and catch fish. You can set your Lowrance Structure Scan set to 40 feet beyond your planner board spread to see fish you may be missing.

Trolling is still working. Pulling an umbrella rig a little shallower in the water column will produce well if you are around fish. Use a Captain Mack’s Umbrella rig on heavy Sunline Monofilament. Invest in an Umbrella Rig Retriever to free up your rigs if they get hung up.

After dark, get out your Bombers and McSticks and target the areas around the islands from Lake Lanier Islands to the islands in the creek mouths below Browns Bridge. These lures are easy to use. Just cast them to the banks after dark and retrieve them just fast enough to feel the wobble in your rod tip. When you start catching fish, you will get into a rhythm. Just remember when there is one fish there will often be more.

Crappie fishing has started to get better. My Lowrance Structure Scan shows that there are some small schools of decent fish in brush. These fish will eat small jigs worked through the brush or down-lined minnows fished directly in the brush below your boat or dock. 

Shooting jigs around docks in 15 to 20 feet with brush early and later in the day will produce a mess of fish to eat. There are also some crappie showing up around those hydro glow lights around docks after dark.

Trout fishing is good. We are seeing some leaves that are changing color up in the mountains. There are few places nicer to be than on the trout waters in North Georgia. Whether you wade for native trout way up in the mountains or you kayak from Buford Dam down the river, it will still feel like you are miles away from population.

The trout enjoy the cooler water temperatures, and they know that this is the time to feed up, because winter weather is just around the corner. For an angler that is able to see where the trout are rising, they will bite a well -presented fly. Small Cadis patterns or other dry flies will work well this week.

Spinning anglers should also follow the same pattern. Cast to pools or current runs where they see fish rising. Usually the biggest trout occupy the best locations. Large rocks, sunken logs or other current breaks will hold trout. Cast your spinners or small minnow imitators to these areas for your best results.

Bank fishing: Fish will be shallower this week with the cooler weather. Grab your worms, crickets or minnows and a good old fashion bobber. 

Bass, crappie and brim will all be feeding in the shallows this week on farm and subdivision ponds as well as on Lake Lanier. Look for cover like lay downs, docks and rocks. 

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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