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Lake Lanier Fishing Report: High water levels starting to subside
Eric Aldrich
Local bass angler Eric Aldrich poses with a fish he caught. - photo by For The Times

Lake Lanier has fallen almost a foot from last week’s high-water apex of 1,074.73. The lake is now at 1,073.91, or 2.91 feet above the normal full pool of 1,071. 

Lake surface temperatures remain in the upper-70s to low-80s. Main-lake and lower-lake creeks mouths are clear to stained. The upper lake creeks, pockets and the rivers are stained to muddy.

NOTE: The CORPS continues to run water through Buford Dam 24 hours a day due to the high lake levels. During water generation, it’s unsafe to be on the river or to fish from the bank below Buford Dam. Check generation schedules before heading out to the river at 770-945-1466.

Bass fishing remains very good, and the fish are biting a variety of techniques. That being said, a few methods deserve special mention.

The top-water action has still been strong, but success with it comes and goes throughout the day in certain areas. Yet there’s always a school of fish attacking herring and shad on the surface somewhere on the lake. We have been running-and-gunning 20 to 40 areas a day in search of that one place where the spotted bass are churning on the surface, which is the main reason why many anglers run up to 250 horsepower engines.

For the angler looking for relaxation, this type of fishing may not be for you. Keep a swim bait, top-water plug and a drop-shot for the fish you see below your boat on your electronics. 

Run to a productive point or hump with brush, make five or 10 casts with your top-water plugs or swim baits then move over the brush and make a couple drops before moving on to the next area. Spend no more than five to 10 minutes per area until you encounter an active school, then work them until they quit biting. After the action subsides, move on to find more active schools to catch.

When the action slows, we have been drop-shotting brush in 20 to 30 feet of water close to the creek channels and dropoffs on main lake. Start out using as light of a drop-shot weight as you can effectively get down quickly (⅛- to ¼-ounce weights are common). 

On some days, a slower drop will increase your bites, while on other days a faster drop may trigger more action. Pay attention to the fish on your electronics and let them tell you their preference for that given day.

Night-fishing remains good. Cast deep-diving crank baits, large black spinner baits with oversized Colorado Blades, jigs and even Texas rigged black worms. Remember that a lots of Lake Lanier’s bass move very shallow after dark, so beating the banks is a good technique.

Striper fishing remains strong, and the fish are biting well in certain areas. 

The stripers are moving around a lot, so don’t waste time in unproductive areas. While most striper anglers don’t tend to run-and-gun as much as bass anglers, this plan is a good idea, especially in the mornings when herring and the stripers that are chasing them move around.

First thing in the morning, get out your Redfins, Chug Bugs, Sebiles and Tim Farley Swim baits, and cover water. Long points and shallow humps from River Forks all the way down to Buford Dam are the best areas to target. 

Make a few casts while keeping an eye peeled for any top-water action that may be occurring to the left or right of a point. If you don’t encounter any action, move to the next area in search of more productive water.

Live herring on flat lines and planner boards have worked best, especially early and later in the day. When it’s cloudy, the flat lines and casting lures may be your best plan all day long. On sunny days pay, attention to your electronics and deploy down lines if you see fish deeper than 25 feet deep.

As mentioned above, covering water is key. Continue to pull Captain Mack’s Umbrella rigs over shallow points and humps, and keep a lure ready to cast to any fish you see breaking the surface.

Crappie fishing ranges from tough to very good. The crappie are deeper and relating to the same brush that the bass are in 20 to 30 feet near channel breaks in the creeks.

Keep a milk run of brush piles, and use your jigs and electronics to determine the best brush to fish. Down lined crappie minnows, as well as fishing small jigs through the brush, are the go-to techniques this time of year. If you know the crappie are present, then make multiple casts from different directions to trigger the school into biting.

Trout fishing: The CORPS continues to pull water below Buford Dam all day with some rare slack periods on the weekends. As we mentioned last week, this high water is very dangerous and the fishing is very poor, so plan to pick another location until the water releases level out.

Continue to fish live earthworms (where live bait is permitted by law), inline spinners and dry flies.

Bank fishing: It’s that time of year to start catching North Georgia redfish — otherwise known as carp. 

Carp fishing is a great way to get kids and adults alike into the sport of angling. These hard-fighting fish are easy to catch and are truly fun to target with light tackle.

All you need is a fishing rod and reel outfitted with light to medium weight line, some corn and a small Aberdeen Style hook with a split-shot attached a foot or so above the hook and bait.

Carp are attracted to human activity, and they congregate around beach areas, camp grounds and marinas. Take a handful of corn and throw it out into the water where you’ll be fishing, then string a few kernels of corn onto your hook and cast it out into the area you chummed with corn. 

Secure your rods well because even a small carp can pull a loosely secured fishing pole into the water. These hard-fighting fish may provide you or your kids with the largest fish you have ever caught.

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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