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Lake Lanier Fishing Report: There's ample trout to be caught below Buford Dam
Eric Aldrich
Local bass angler Eric Aldrich poses with a fish he caught. - photo by For The Times

Lake Lanier’s water level is at 1,071.34 or .34 feet above the normal full pool at 1,071. 

The main lake is clear to slightly stained. The water in the rivers and creeks ranges from clear to stained when rain inflow or boat traffic stirs the waters. Lake surface temperatures have risen into the mid to upper 70’s.

The Chattahoochee River below Buford Dam is clear. Check generation schedules before heading out to the river at 770-945-1466. 

Bass fishing has continued to be very good for anglers who can find and exploit the offshore bite. 

Many techniques are working but the one method that still stands out is topwater fishing all day long.

We have been employing the run-and-gun method which is not for everyone. Start your day on productive offshore humps and points from 10-25 feet deep with planted brush piles. The weapons of choice have varied from large topwater plugs like a Whopper Plopper, Sammy or Super Spook to less intrusive lures like a Big Bite Baits Jerk Minnow, Fluke or even a spy bait.

My Lowrance Electronics are a must for this type of fishing. 

My Electronics contain over a thousand pre-marked brush piles. 

Acquiring this many waypoints takes some time on the water, but it ensures that anglers will never run out of areas to fish. 

As you find more brush, make sure to mark it for future trips.

Cast moving lures directly over brush before trolling over the brush to exploit the fish that are not as active. 

A dropshot rigged with a Big Bites Shaking’ Squirrel or a Lanier Baits Fruity Worm. We may fish as many as 40 different areas in an 8-10 hour day. This type of fishing is not for everyone because we may fish up to 10 areas before finally colliding with an active school. 

Once we locate an active school we will hunker down and fish that area until the fish quit biting. Often, the fish will disperse after we have caught a few and it may be best to leave them alone for an hour or so only to come back later in the day to catch more.

Casting subsurface lures like a Spybait, SPRO McStick or even a deep-diving crank bait are all worth a try. Jig head, Carolina or Texas Rigged worms are also worth trying.

After dark, we have been catching some big spotted bass fishing rocky points in the creek mouths with a SPRO RkCrawler or Little John DD. 

Allow the lures to dig up the bottom from the banks all the way back to the boat. 

A slow-steady retrieve works best after the sun goes down.

Striper fishing has been hit and miss, except for anglers who are adept at using their electronics. 

Today’s electronics allow anglers to locate stripers both below and out to the sides using Structure Scan. Very often, anglers with tradition 2/D sonar can miss a school or bait or stripers that anglers with Structure Scan (Side Imaging) can see by scanning far out to the left or right of their boats.

We have been catching a combination of stripers and bass by throwing topwater lures in the mornings and again toward sundown. 

It pays to be on the water before the sunrises to enjoy some great striper topwater action.

As the sun gets higher in the sky, the stripers will target shad and herring from 30-50-feet over a 40-70-foot bottom. 

Hook your herring through the lips and use a heavy sinker to get them down through the warmer surface lure to the cooler lower layers of Lake Lanier. It also pays to use a long leader of Sniper FC Fluorocarbon to help entice fish that may be line shy.

There are still some stripers hanging out around dock lights after the sun goes down. 

You can fool these fish by casting jerk baits, small swimbaits or even by casting live herring on a flat line towards the light. 

Crappie fishing has been hit and miss. The crappie can be found shallower early and later in the day. Target deeper docks from 10-25 feet that have brush planted around them. You can shoot small crappie jigs under these docks or try down lining crappie minnows, live shad or even spot tail minnows caught with a small mesh cast net.

Some of your best action will occur around floating lights placed around bridge pilings after dark. 

The same minnows and jigs as mentioned above will work around the bridges but look for the crappie to be from 5-15 feet deep.

Bank fishing: As the air temperatures heat up, anglers can cool down by fishing for trout below Buford Dam. 

The Buford Dam trout hatchery stocks trout heavily below Buford Dam as well as up in the mountain streams.

Get out to the river as early as possible and have your light spinning gear or fly-fishing outfits ready for action. 

Target both the rapids as well as the deeper pools located below them. 

Remember that the biggest trout will occupy the best current breaks. You can actually see trout rising early and later in the day. Cast upstream and work your flies or spinning lures down stream past rocks and trees that provide the best current breaks. 

Please pay attention to generation times and get off the river before dam generation starts. 

Remember that life jackets are required for any one wading in the water from Buford Dam to the Hwy 20 bridge.

Eric Aldrich is an outdoor writer and bass angler. Reports are based on personal experience and permission from a close network of friends. He would love to hear from readers, so please email him at esaldrich@yahoo.com. Remember to take a kid fishing!

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