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Lake Lanier Fishing Report: Stable weather equates to steady fishing
Eric Aldrich
Local bass angler Eric Aldrich poses with a fish he caught. - photo by For The Times

Water Conditions: Lake Lanier’s level is falling and is at 1,064.96, or 6.04 feet, below the normal full pool of 1,071. Lake surface temperatures rose into the low 80s last week but have dropped back down nicely into the mid-70s at the time of this writing. 

The main lake and creeks mouths are clear. The creeks and rivers are clear-to-stained. The Chattahoochee River below Buford Dam is clear. Check generation schedules before heading out to the river by calling 770-945-1466.

Bass fishing remains consistent this week. Many techniques that have been producing are still working well, along with the addition of some good shallow fishing in the coves and creeks, too. 

The lake appears to be trying to turn over in some areas, but there is still a thermocline on main lake. The fish are schooling on both herring and shad, so a variety of lures in different sizes will work.

Spybaits continue to score numbers of bass around main lake points, humps and rocky banks. A Spybait is a very basic, skinny bodied hard bait with small propellers on the front and back. These are simple lures to use, but you may want to stick with one for a trip or two to truly get confidence. 

I fished with my daughter Nancy Rowe recently, and she used a Spybait to out-fish me 5-to-1. Cast the Spybait toward schooling fish or over brush, let it sink five-to-10 seconds and just reel it medium-steady back to the boat. You can achieve similar results casting a SPRO McStick 110 or a McRip 95.

The problem with the Spybait, at least for me, is there are so many schooling fish in fall. It can be hard to chunk a finesse lure on a light-spinning tackle when huge bass are blowing up all around you. 

We have seen pods of 3-to-5-pound largemouth bass chasing gizzard shad in the backs of the creeks. There have also been some huge schools of 20 or more spotted bass crushing herring over points, humps and even open water in the creeks. When this happens, pick your confidence lure — even a Spybait — and stick with it until the bass tell you otherwise.

Top-water lures, buzz baits, spinner baits, swim baits and jerk baits all get the thumbs up this week. Hit your best areas and move if you don’t get any action or witness schooling fish within 10-to-15 minutes. 

The best surface action has been from sunrise until around 11:00 a.m., then again from 3 p.m. until just before sundown. Switch to a crank bait or big black spinner bait after dark and beat the banks.

The drop shot-bite remains very strong, but as mentioned above, it’s hard to look down at your graph when bass are exploding within casting distance. 

For my drop-shot, I use a Shimano spinning reel on a medium-weight, 7-foot-2 Kissel Krafts Custom Spinning Rod. At the business end goes a Big Bites Shakin’ Squirrel, Lanier Baits Fruity Worm or Robo Worm on a No. 1 or No. 10 Gamakatsu Aberdeen-style hook. 

Use straight No. 7 Sniper Fluorocarbon for both the main line and your leader line. Tie a No. 8 SPRO Swivel to prevent line twist and a ⅛-to-¼-ounce River 2 Sea Skinny Weight. When you see lines or arcs on your electronics, drop down and hold on.

Striper Fishing: There are a lot of stripers in the creek mouths and around the islands all the way from Cleveland Highway to the Buford Dam. 

Get out at daylight and you should see some schools working early and also later in the day toward sundown. If you were able to find stripers last October then you should see them in the same areas right now.

There has been some great schooling action, and top-water striper fishing is hard to beat. Cast Redfins, Sammys, Spooks or your favorite personal herring imitator to any schooling fish you encounter. Other subsurface lures like Bomber Long A’s, McSticks or buck tail jigs will also work well when cast toward fish thrashing on the surface.

Surprisingly, the herring bite has been a little more sporadic. Maybe it’s because the thermocline is waning, or it could be because the fish are just moving around so much. 

That being said, herring can save the day, too. Be prepared with a few dozen and try running a combination of flat, down and planner board lines to cover the water column.

Trolling can also save the day. Fish a 1-to-2-ounce SPRO Buck Tail on a Cannon Down Rigger from 15-to-20 feet deep. Switch things up and try a SPRO 6-Inch BBZ1 on these same down-riggers. You can also try pulling a Captain Mack’s Umbrella Rig at the same depth, or seven-to-eight colors on lead core at 2.5-to-3 mph. Trolling is a great way to cover water while looking for schooling fish.

The Bomber Bite that went away last week seems to be experiencing a resurgence. Cast a pink Bomber Long A or any color SPRO McStick 110 or 115 to windy banks around main lake islands after dark.

Crappie fishing should pick up, but as of this week, it remains slow. Dissecting deep brush piles with small jigs or a spot tail minnow on a drop-shot rig will get you a few bites early or late in the day. 

Look for the fish to move up into shallower brush when the water temperatures reach 70 degrees.

Some smaller fish are being caught after dark on small jigs around Hyrdo Glow lights on docks around the lake. Please remember the dock owners may or may not be OK with us anglers fishing around them. Make sure to be quiet, polite and be prepared to move on if the owner or someone else is fishing there.

Trout fishing is a little slow, but anglers should be able to coax enough bites to make a trip worthwhile. 

The river and stream flows are a little low this month due to the lack of rain. Look for any weather fronts to turn on the fish. 

Right now, a top (dry fly on the top) and drop (wet fly on the bottom) rig may be your best bet. There have been some insect hatches in the afternoons, so if needed, match the hatch with a very small dry fly.

Silver and grey or white-colored spinners like a ⅛-to-one-sixteenth Rooster Tail can work very in fall, especially below Buford Dam. These tiny offerings match the small shad that get washed through the turbines. Fish it as slow as you can but just fast enough to keep the blades spinning.

Bank Fishing: Plastic worms have probably caught as many bass as all the other bass lures combined. Buy a pack of offset Gamakatsu Hooks. Get a pack of ¼-ounce bullet sinkers and a pack of 6-inch Big Bites Watermelon Finesse Worms and hit your local pond or Lake Lanier.

Learning to fish a worm is more about patience than anything else. Start out rigging your worm Texas style — thread the sinker loose on your main line, then tie on your hook. String your worm very straight with the hook tip buried to keep it weedless. Cast it out, let it fall to the bottom then work it slowly back to the bank.

Use a sensitive rod with a medium-speed reel and high-quality Sunline Fluorocarbon to feel those subtle bites. A worm bite feels like a small “tick,” or like a brim biting. 

When you feel this, give it some slack, feel the rod load up then set the hook.

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