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Lake Lanier fishing report: Striper fishing picks up, while crappie fishing remains slow
Eric Aldrich
Local bass angler Eric Aldrich poses with a fish he caught. - photo by For The Times

Water Conditions:  The lake level is down slightly at 1,069.01 feet or 1.99 feet below the normal full pool of 1,071. The weather remains unseasonably hot for September, and the lake surface temperatures remain in the lower 80s. The main lake and creeks mouths are clear to very stained, including some greenish stained water that resembles plankton blooms. The creeks and rivers are clear to stained. The Chattahoochee River below Buford Dam is slightly to very stained. Check generation schedules before heading out to the river @ 770-945-1466.

Bass fishing has rated down and up - Seems like watching the Dow Jones!  Some days the bass have been easier to catch, while the majority of other times it has been tough, leaving many anglers scratching their heads. We are used to the weather being 5 to 10 degrees cooler in the middle of September and we are also used to lake surface temperatures being in the mid to high 70s vs. the lower 80s where they are right now. If temperatures drop, look for the fishing and catching to get better.

Start the days out on the shallower humps and points, casting top-water lures and swimbaits. We have been casting out over deep brush and timber located at around 30 to 45 feet deep. Most boaters can gain an advantage by pulling the fish into structure (the lake bottom). When you hook a fish, the rest of the school often follows the fish you have hooked. It is much better to pull a school of fish in shallower where they will hang out instead of pulling the active fish out deeper where they disperse into open water.

This week, we have seen plenty of bass schooling out over deep brush and deeper timber lines where they are harder to target. If you find a place where there are plenty of bass busting on the surface, it often pays to just wait until the fish come within range before firing a cast to them. If you land a top-water plug like a Sammy or a subsurface swimbait like a SPRO 4-inch slow sink top-water or a SPRO 6-inch trout on a feeding bass’s head, then they often eat the whole lure!

Other techniques and lures are working, and many are more consistent than the top-water action. During the day, cast a Spybait over or fishing a drop-shot in offshore brush. Approach the brush marked on your Lowrance Mapping, and cast a top-water plug over the brush first. Then switch over to a light spinning reel and cast your Spybait over the brush. Allow the Spybait to sink to the level where the brush tops out. Most spy baits sink about a foot a second. Retrieve your Spybait slowly over the brush. If you don’t get a strike then move up over the brush and work a drop-shot in the brush and watch your electronics to see the fish you are targeting and to watch how they react.

The early night time fishing has probably been your best bet. Cast a SPRO Little John DD20 to rocky banks in the creek mouths down lake, and reel these deep diving plugs over the bottom. A large, dark Colorado Blade Spinner bait with a darker, bulky swimbait like a Big Bites Suicide Shad will also coax bites from the nocturnal bass that are usually bigger than the average size bass. Use either bright or very dark lures and allow them to dig into and deflect off of the bottom to trigger strikes.

Striper fishing is very good. The stripers remain schooled up in the deeper ditches, creeks and river channels from mid-lake on down to the dam. Most of the stripers are showing up on my Lowrance electronics from 25 to 50 feet deep.

Start your day trolling large SPRO Bucktails or Captain Mack’s Umbrella Rigs with smaller buck tails until you find the thicker schools of fish. Trolling is a great technique for covering, locating and often the best technique for catching stripers. 

Watch your Lowrance Electronics while trolling baits out behind the boat.

When you ride over a large school of stripers, you will easily see them in traditional 2D, Structure Scan or Down Scan mode. Deploy your blueback herring or other live bait like a gizzard shad. Since the stripers have been a little shallower lately, it may pay to deploy a combination of down lines, possibly planner boards and/or flat lines. I feel you can present a bait lot more naturally with a standard flat line.

Continue to try power reeling your live baits before you change out to a new, livelier bait. Herring have been living a little longer, but they still need to be switched out every 10 minutes or so.

We have seen some very small stripers hitting around the lights after sundown but have not checked on the Bomber/McStick bite yet. That after dark striper bite gets going sooner and ends later than most people know. 

Crappie fishing remains very slow. It may be best to target a different species, but someone can always catch them. Your best time to target crappie is from 5 a.m. to 8 am around brush piles up in the rivers. For people who work later, try from sundown until sunrise around permanent Hydro/Glow dock lights in the creeks or coves that have brush piles located from 20 to 30 feet deep.

Bank Fishing: We mentioned brim bedding last week. This weekend we are in a full moon phase. With these warmer seasonal temperatures, we can expect some fishing to be slower than we wish. That being said the warm water and full moon should mean that the brim are producing nests in some subdivision or farm ponds and lakes including our home Lake Lanier.

Dig up earth worms. You can catch worms by thoroughly soaking the ground (needs to be good soil) right around sundown. Let it soak for an hour repeat then wait 20 minutes. Cover it with a plastic bag or foil. Dig up worms, put them in a can or cup and add some soil.

You can also buy crickets or worms at any bait store. 

Take small hooks and string a worm over to cover the hook with your bait. Sometimes more is less and less is more, so play around with the amount of bait that will work best. Place a bobber about 2 feet above your hook, cast this bobber and hook to any light spots located along the bank. Watch the bobber for any action, and reel in the bobber if it goes down or runs away!

Eric Aldrich is an outdoor writer, marketing specialist, guide and bass angler. He is currently booking teaching trips for Lake Lanier’s spotted and largemouth bass. 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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