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Lake Lanier Fishing Report: Schooling stripers continue to bite well along the surface
Eric Aldrich
Local bass angler Eric Aldrich poses with a fish he caught. - photo by For The Times

The rain continues to keep the CORP busy as they pull water almost around the clock to keep lake level steady. 

Lake Lanier is just over a half a foot above full pool at 1,071.64 feet or .64 foot above the full pool of 1,071. 

Lake surface temperatures continue to fall and are right around 80 degrees. 

The main lake and creeks mouths are clear to slightly stained. 

Most of the creeks are very stained to muddy in the backs. 

The rivers are very stained to muddy from recent rains.

The Chattahoochee River below Buford Dam is clear, but turns more and more stained the further south you go. 

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

Bass: The bass continue to bite and fishing is good. 

This past week’s rains have caused a significant amount of run-off to flow into our local rivers, creeks and also Lake Lanier. 

Rain runoff washes food and oxygen into the lake. 

Not much has changed, but there are some subtle things occurring that anglers should take note of. 

We have started to see a lot of bait up shallow in the coves and and back into the creeks. 

Lake Lanier is starting to turn over or stratify. 

Stratification occurs in spring and again as we approach the early fall. 

Stratification happens when different temperature layers of water mix together. 

Presently, the warm upper layers of our lake water are just starting to mix with the cooler bottom layers. 

The established layers in summer had concentrated the fish below 30-feet deep. 

Now as these layers mix the fish roam a lot more. 

Anglers often blame the turnover when they don’t catch fish.

The fishing is still very good and the same patterns that have been working all summer long continue to be viable. 

We are still running and gunning brush piles both out on main lake and on back into the creeks and rivers.

If I could only use one lure right now, it would be a Lanier Baits Jerk Shad. 

This is a fluke-style soft plastic jerk bait that you can work on or just below the surface. 

This lure closely imitates the herring or shad that Lake Lanier’s largemouth and spotted bass are feasting on. 

Cast a Jerk Shad or your own personal favorite topwater lure over submerged brush in 20-40 feet of water. 

The bass are schooling around planted brush located on main lake points and humps and on back into the creeks and rivers. 

If the fish do not rise to strike your lures, then use your trolling motor to move in above the brush. 

Watch your fish finders and if you see fish, then use a Lanier Baits Fruity or Tri-Colored worm on a dropshot to coax a few extra bites.

Continue on back into the larger creeks and fish these same lures around man made brush or rocky areas near both shallow and deep water. 

Other lures are also worth trying. 

Try making a long cast over the brush or rock piles with a SPRO Little John DD and reel it beside or through the brush to coax bites from some of the larger fish. 

Work a Carolina Rigged soft plastic, Texas-rigged curly tail or a Fruity Worm on a shaky head in these same areas.

Lake Lanier’s bass, along with the rest of our local wildlife, start to react to the shorter daylight hours long before humans. 

Add the gradual cooling of the water, you can bet the fish have started to become aware that fall and winter are just around the corner. 

The alarm has sounded and it’s time they fill their bellies in anticipation of fall. 

We found some shallow fish in the backs of the pockets and witnessed a large school of herring. 

These fish were suckers for a SPRO McStick 110, fished with a medium-steady retrieve. 

Night fishing has also improved. 

Try fishing with a medium-to-deep diving crankbait or a large single-bladed black spinner bait.

Striper fishing is good and the same patterns remain productive. 

That’s the good news. 

Now the even better news is that the schooling surface activity has really picked up and it will only get better and better as we move into the fall season. 

As you read this report, the stripers are starting to appear in large wolfpacks that are trapping herring and shad against the surface. 

If you have never seen a huge school of stripers on the surface, then just get out to the lake when the water temperatures drop into the 70’s. 

Idle around in the main lake creek mouths and keep your eyes open. 

If you are diligent and patient, you will eventually see what looks like a hundred or more large fish splashing on the surface. 

It’s not unheard of to see a half acre of large splashes that look like someone is dropping bowling balls from the sky. 

Anglers with good eyesight may be able to see this action as it occurs up to a mile, or even more, away.

Keep a rod with a topwater lure or a Lanier Baits Jerk Shad tied on and at the ready. 

If you encounter a school that is too far to cast for, then start the big motor and approach the school as quietly as possible. 

If they are schooling slightly too far away, then use your trolling motor and get within distance before making a cast right to the action.

The other normal summertime methods are working well. 

Trolling a large two-ounce SPRO Buck Tail on 7-8 colors of lead core at 2 mph will produce some good fish. Trolling allows you to cover water when you’re not marking fish on your Lowrance Electronics. 

If you locate a school of fish that shows on your graph, then slow your trolling rigs and set out either flat lines (if the fish are shallower than 30 feet) or down lines (for fish that are deeper). 

Keep a bait tank full of lively herring or shad. 

You can purchase bait at several local tackle shops or you can use a cast net to catch your own with a cast net.

The night fishing is just starting to occur. 

That being said, this bite is really not set up yet, so you may only catch one or two. 

Cast a Bomber Long A or SPRO McStick to main lake points and humps or check out some of the coves in the creeks.

Crappie: The fish are still deep around brush and docks in 15-30 feet of water. 

Cast small crappie minnows to the brush or position your boat directly above the brush and work your jigs up over and through the branches while waiting for a small ‘tick’ when the fish strike your jigs. 

Fish your tiny jigs or minnow on a jig head. 

Use light 2-6-pound test Sunline on a light spinning outfit. 

Watch your electronics and scan in or around the brush to see exactly where the fish are located. 

Drop down to any fish you see and hopefully you can catch enough fish for a fish taco dinner.

You can email Eric Aldrich at with comments or questions.

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