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Lake Lanier Fishing Report: Lower lake temperatures create ample fishing opportunities
Eric Aldrich
Local bass angler Eric Aldrich poses with a fish he caught. - photo by For The Times

Lake Lanier’s water level is 1,065.61, or 5.39 feet below the normal full pool of 1,071. Lake surface temperatures have dropped rapidly into the mid to low 70’s. The main lake and creeks mouths are clear to very stained. The creeks and rivers are stained to muddy. The Chattahoochee River below Buford Dam is clear. Check generation schedules before heading out to the river at 770-945-1466.

Bass: What a difference a week makes! Irma rocked a lot of peoples’ worlds with heavy rains, wind damage and wide spread power outages. Irma also brought in cooler weather and the fish have reacted. Last week fishing was up and down but this week it has been good for the most part. 

The bass have been very active both before and after the crazy weather fronts. If they are pulling water through the dam then it just makes fishing that much better. A variety of lures have been producing with top water and drop shots still remaining the lures of choice for a majority of anglers.

The good news is bass will tend to be shallower this week and the surface temperatures drop. That being said, we will also start to experience lake turnover very soon, which tends to scatter the bass. When the warmer upper layers of the lake cool, the warmer upper layers will start to mix with the cooler lower layers. This can create a feast or famine scenario. Areas that were loaded with fish one day may be devoid of life the next.

Anglers should pick a couple of confidence techniques and be prepared to move around. For some anglers, this can mean running and gunning dozens of areas in fast running boats. Others may do better just locking down the trolling motor and running the banks. Both approaches have merit.

The same lures that have worked all summer continue to score results. Top water plugs, swim baits and drop shot rigs are all worth a try. This week crank baits and spinner baits have come more into play. With the exception of the drop shot rig, the rest of these techniques allow you to fish a variety of structure and cover while covering water. Just remember that it is usually better to fish a little too slow than a lot too fast!

The banks, coves, docks and the backs of the creeks should be more productive as water temperatures drop. Get out your buzz baits, spinner baits, shallower running crank baits and shaky heads and go fishing! Both largemouth and spotted bass will move shallower into the creek and ditch channels as they follow the shad and crawfish as Fall approaches.

For anglers who prefer to fish main lake lures like big top water plugs, swimbaits, crankbaits and jigs are the go to lures to fish around main lake brush. It’s also hard to beat a plastic swimbait like a Big Bites Suicide Shad on a SPRO Buck Tail or a Fish Head Spin. Work all of these lures over and through brush to trigger big schools of spotted bass. Remember that just because the fish are one place one day they may not be there the next.

The biggest secret this week has been the night bite. Big spotted bass are eating deep diving crank baits and large Colorado Bladed Spinner Baits. Cast a SPRO Little John DD to rocky banks and work these lures slow and steady, allowing them to bank off brush and rock on the bottom. 

Stripers: Some of the striper fishing has changed while much has stayed the same. Down lines, flat lines, jigging spoons, trolling and even casting lures have all worked well this past week. Pick your strengths and fish that way until the fish tell you differently. 

The down line herring bite remains strong at times so make sure you pick up plenty of lively bait. We have been using both flat lines (unweighted) and down lines (weighted) this week. Your electronics and any random surface activity should lead you in the right direction. If the fish are down deeper than 20 feet, use down lines. If you witness fish schooling on the surface or see them located above 20 feet on your graph, try flat lines.

The trolling bite has been good and sometimes it offers angles the best option to fish when the wind is up. You can pull large single SPRO Buck Tails or a pre-rigged Captain Mack’s Umbrella Rig. When you mark fish troll from 2.5 to 3 MPH. Always keep a casting lure like a Redfin or SPRO Buck Tail at the ready for any schooling fish you encounter. Don’t tell anyone but the Bomber/Redfin/McStick bite has already started early on Lake Lanier. Get out after dark and cast to areas down by the dam and out around Lake Lanier Islands for some aggressive strikes after dark!

Crappie fishing remains slow, but be prepared for the action to get improvement very soon with the lower lake temperatures in Fall. Target brush and docks close to the creek and ditch channels at around 25-feet-deep. After dark, the crappie will move much shallower. Target Hydra Glow and dock lights and make casts to where the lights and shadows meet.

Trout fishing slowed down a little this past week with the tremendous inflow of rains from Irma. That being said, things should settle down and get back to normal next week.

Bank Fishing: One word applies this week ­— Laydowns. With all of the rain and recent winds a lot of trees fell into the lakes, ponds, rivers and streams this past week.

These “freshly planted brush piles” will mean that the fish have habitat for years to come. When the green trees fall into the water they contain bugs and green leafy material that supplies food to the entire food chain.

Get out to your local bait shop and grab a tube of crickets. Attach an small Aberdeen style hook below a split shot sinker set about two feet below a bobber. You may catch bream, crappie, bass and even catfish on live crickets around fallen trees.

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

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