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Lake Lanier Fishing Report: 'Hard-fighting' stripers moving closer to shore in late fall
Lake levels have risen with torrential rainfall this week
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 continues to rise from the hard rains we had this past week. At the time of this writing the lake was at 1,071.53 or .53 above the normal full pool of 1,071 and still rising. Lake surface temperatures are in the high 60’s. 

The main lake and lower lake creeks are slightly stained to stained from recent rains and lake turnover. The upper lake and rivers are very stained to muddy from lake turnover and rain inflow. The Chattahoochee below Buford Dam remains very stained from lake turnover.

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

Bass fishing: Not many anglers have been braving the rain, but that should change as the weather clears over the weekend. The lake has risen quickly and the bass are on several different patterns.

We have started to concentrate on the ditch bite this past week with good results. A quality mapping chip is almost a necessity for this pattern, but I also like an old fashioned hard copy to study beforehand for the best ditches to target. Look for long ditches that stretch from the creek or river beds, all the way up to the shore where the ditch enters the lake.

Start out early in the day by targeting the shallow parts of the ditches with moving lures. A Fish Head Spin, SPRO Little John DD or a spinner bait are all good lures to cast to the shallow parts of the ditches early in the day. The bass will follow these ditches like we use highways. They will trap bait early in the day in the shallows against the bank, then follow them back out to where they will spend the majority of the day.

As the sun rises and the day progresses, you can follow the bass back out deeper in the 20 to 45-foot range close to the timberlines. Even though the fish may not actively be feeding, they are suckers for a shaky head or jig worked on the bottom. Other lures like a drop shot rig or a jigging spoon can also work for catching fish that you see directly below the boat with your Lowrance Electronics.

Other techniques are also working well. Because the lake has risen from the torrential rains this week you may find the fish shallow up around docks and along rocky banks. You can cast an all-white Mini Me spinner bait or a SPRO Little John MD and work these lures up shallow. Also, try casting a Big Bites Jerk Shad or a Fluke to shallow docks that have deep water close by. Skipping a shaky head around docks and rocky banks in the pockets will also work well to fool Lake Lanier’s spotted and largemouth bass population.

Striper fishing has been good, but things are starting to change. The stripers are hitting a variety of lures and several different techniques are working. There are still plenty of fish schooling on the surface and this has been my go-to pattern for catching stripers in the fall.

Combat fishing is the term we anglers use to describe several boats working the same school of stripers as they chase shad on the surface. It can get crazy when over five boats are chasing the same school of fish. Lines get crossed and tangled and anglers’ tempers can flair. I prefer to find a lone school of fish that we can have all to ourselves. You can be assured that if the fish are schooling in one area of the lake that the same action is also happening elsewhere.

It pays to come up to a school on the trolling motor as opposed to running up to the fish with your big motor. These schooling fish seem to be targeting small to medium-sized shad and blue backs. Smaller shad imitators are out producing top water plugs 5 to 1. A one-half ounce SPRO Buck Tail, Rooster Tail or a SPRO McStick are great lures for catching schooling stripers. Also, try an Alabama or Mack’s Mini Rig. These subsurface lures are all better choices than your normal top water plug. 

Other methods that will catch fish are trolling umbrella rigs over long points and humps. Both flat lines and down lined herring are producing fish all over the lake. Target the mud lines where the off-colored rain wash off meets the clearer lake water.

Probably the best method that deserves mention is throwing Bomber Long A’s and McSticks to windy banks after dark. If you found the fish schooling towards dark then locate the closest banks and cast up shallow with these long, herring imitating lures.

Trout fishing has been good, but expect that your favorite trout waters may be blown out by recent rains. Depending on where you fish, the water may be high and muddy.

One of the best producers after heavy rains is a good, old fashioned earth worm. Check to make sure local regulations allow live bait. Store bought red wigglers are a good choice, but if you can dig up your own that’s even better. Thread your worms over small Gamakatsu Aberdeen hook tied directly to your main line. Don’t use snaps or swivels as trout can see these. Make sure your worm completely covers the hook. Attach a small quarter ounce split shot about a foot or two above the worm and cast it out into the deeper poles below the rapids. 

Bank fishing: Just because you don’t own a boat doesn’t mean you can’t catch stripers from the shore. These hard fighting fish move shallower in the late fall where bank anglers can target them.

Live bait will be your best choice during the day. A 5-gallon bucket with a small aerator and stone will keep baits lively all day long. Buy some medium shiners and trout. You need to secure your rods well as even a small striper can pull your whole rod into the lake. You can buy rod holders or make some out of PVC pipe. 

You will want to fish from banks that have deep water close to the shore. It will help greatly if you can position your rods with the wind at your back. There are many parks where you can catch stripers. Mary Alice Park, River Forks and Holly Park are just a few of the many parks we have on Lake Lanier.

You can use as many rods as you like but four is a good, manageable number. You can use a slip bobber and set your bobber stop at 10-to-15 feet deep or you can take a Carolina Rig (a swivel and hook on your leader with a one-ounce weight attached to your main line) and fish on the bottom. Equip your rods with 12 or 14-Pound Sniper Natural Monofilament. Make long casts, secure your rods and wait. If you do not get a bite within an hour try to find a more productive 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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