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Lake Lanier Fishing Report: Fishing changes as the dog days move into the Fall
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 1,070.46 feet, which is .54 feet below the normal full pool of 1,071. Lake surface temperatures keep hovering in the low to mid-80s. The main lake and lower lake creeks mouths are clear to stained. The upper lake creeks, pockets and the rivers are also clear to stained. Check generation schedules before heading out to the river below Buford Dam at 770-945-1466.

Bass fishing continues to remain just ok as the dog days of summer move into the first day of fall. That being said, you can bet things are starting to change. We are seeing more fish roaming around shallow areas, but the bigger spotted bass seem to be more elusive.

I have caught several largemouth bass up in the shallow creeks early in the day, including the big fish for the BFL last weekend. These fish are hitting jigs or buzz baits before the sun gets up high. You can continue to flip jigs around shallow cover to pick up a few more bites. I like to throw a ¼-ounce Jig with a Big Bites Fighting Frog trailer.

A lot of Lake Lanier’s spotted bass remain more pelagic in the late dog days of summer. Most bass will still relate to their preferred cover like brush or timber, but they will roam farther away as the herring schools move shallower. The water below Buford Dam is starting to have that green stain that happens during lake turnover, even though surface temperatures have not fallen. This is an indicator that oxygen levels have fallen at the deeper depths. This will push the herring schools shallower where the bass will pursue them and try to trap them against the surface. The bass often hit a lure with their sides or tails as they try to kill it. This action will get better as more herring move shallower.

For the rest of the day, I have been using my Lowrance Carbon 12 unit to pick off the deeper school of fish with a drop-shot rig. The color does seem to make a difference. I am using either a Lanier Baits Fruity worm in Herring color or a Big Bites Shakin’ Squirrel in green with red flake. I dip all of these baits, including my jig trailers, in JJ’s Magic. A lot of these fish are just following the bait. Change up the weight on your drop-shot rig to as light as you can go, as this also seems to make a difference.

Striper fishing has been good, and a lot of fish are coming up shallower in the 25 to 50-foot range. These fish seem to be following the herring around that same range. Trolling, live bait on flat and down lines and even casting SPRO Buck Tails have all worked for getting bites this past week. Start your days trolling a Captain Mack’s Umbrella rig on seven to nine colors of lead core at 3 mph, as it has produced some good action with the smaller stripers and a few larger ones. Troll close to where the creek and rivers intersect, and then move into the creek channels until you locate fish. Just about every creek is holding fish all the way up to around Gainesville Marina. The trolling is so good at times, you may not want to use live bait. That being said, it’s always good to keep some herring or shiners ready just in case.

Keep an eye on your Lowrance Electronics for concentrations of fish. If you don’t mark fish, keep moving until you do. Most of the stripers I am marking are at 30 to 50-feet deep. Drop your herring or large shiners down to the level you mark fish. If the wind is light, try a flat line with a small split-shot placed several feet above your bait. This will allow your bait to move around more naturally.

Keep a Nichols Lake Fork Flutter spoon and drop it well below the depth where you mark fish. Larger stripers will often hang around below the school and pick off wounded bait fish. Reel your spoon as fast as you can all the way to the surface for some arm breaking strikes. You can also cast a ¾-ounce SPRO Buck Tail out, let it sink and reel it diagonally up through the striper schools.

Crappie fishing is slow. Get out at sunrise and fish before the sun gets high, or try getting out toward dark. Cast your jigs out past the brush, allow them to sink deep and then work them up and through brush from 25 to 35-feet. This technique takes patience and a sensitive rod with light 2 to 4-pound jigs.

Trout Fishing remains very good in the North Georgia Mountains and just fair below Buford Dam. It’s hard to beat dry fly fishing this time of year. There are many different types of insect hatches. Match the hatch, and then sit back and watch where the trout are rising. Trout will remain still in the current and rise to strike food brought to them by the current. Once you see a fish rise, it will often strike your well-placed offerings.

Live baits like a red wiggler or even a cricket, where live bait fishing is permitted, will work below the rapids in the deeper pools. Use a light Gamakatsu Hook with a quarter ounce split shot placed a few feet above the hook will get your baits down to where the trout are located on the bottom. 

Bank fishing:  With the full moon marking the first day of fall Saturday, you can expect the brim to be building nests close to the bank. These brim are suckers for a live cricket below a bobber. Place just enough weight above the cricket to make it sink.

 If fishing with a bobber is not your speed, then no worries. Bass also move shallower in pursuit of these bedding brim. Cast a noisy top water plug around any brim beds to attract ferocious bites from a big bass.


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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