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Lake Lanier Fishing Report: Topwater action is heating up
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 1,065.31, or 5.69 feet below the normal full pool of 1,071. Lake surface temperatures are in the upper 70s. 

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: There is only one technique to try this week — topwater fishing. 

Sure, if you look down at your Humminbird Electronics during the day, you will probably see wads of “sketti,” or arcs. These wavy lines indicate fish that will probably eat your drop shot, jig head or Fish Head Spin. Still, your eyes may do better watching the horizon and your GPS waypoints in the creek mouths and humps on main lake.

Both herring and shad are surfacing, and the bass and stripers are close behind all over the lake. Humps, points and other structure with features like brush or docks can be fish magnets right now. 

Casting walk-the-dog lures like a Vixen, Sammy, Spook or even a discontinued SPRO Dawg over brush or schooling fish will coax fish better than popping lures this week. You can attach a Front Runner or even a Gamakatsu Feathered Treble Hook ahead of your plug to increase your chance for both hookups and doubles.

Swimbaits, Redfins and jerk baits have also been producing well. I have had great success “stupid fishing” a SPRO McStick. Cast these slender jerk baits toward good-looking areas and just reel them back medium-steady. During early fall, a steady retrieve will work better than a jerk-and-pause retrieve because it mimics the action of a stunned herring.

Seeing a surface strike is awesome, but many anglers prefer to view their strikes on the screen of their electronics. When the bass are showing up on your electronics, you can score numbers with a drop-shot rig. 

Use a Big Bites Shakin’ Squirrel, Roboworm or Fruity Worm on a Gamakatsu Rebarb Hook with 5-to-7-pound Sunline Sniper Fluorocarbon. I switched from a Medium heavy to a Medium action Kissel Krafts Custom Spinning Rod a year ago and have been very pleased with the increase in hookups.

Try using “farm pond” bass-fishing techniques in the backs of the coves, creeks and up the river for some great largemouth action. Skip a SPRO Frog under docks, work a buzz bait on the bank or cast a jig around any bank cover to coax the much-ignored largemouth bass population.

Striper Fishing: The stripers are on the move this week, but they will set up in reliable areas both early and later in the day. Almost any technique will work right now, so pick your strengths and go fishing.

Early or later in the day the stripers are out eating herring in the creek mouths toward the river channels. If the weather is calm, sit still in the mouth of any creek below Browns Bridge and just look around. If you are patient, you will likely see fish surfacing.

Targeting humps or points near the channels will increase your odds greatly. Even if the surface is calm, it pays to make a few casts over the best areas. Stripers will come out of deeper water to eat a swimbait, Redfin or walking bait. When the surface is calm, these strikes will really get your heart thumping.

While the topwater bite is best early and later, it can occur at any time. Walking and V-walking lures will work well, but I still maintain casting a sub-surface lure like a SPRO Buck Tail or McStick will increase your chances of a hookup under most conditions.

Remember these fish are targeting herring and even lousy fishermen (like me) can catch fish with live bait. Purchase your bait from a reputable tackle dealer, and they will let you know what you need to keep the herring healthy throughout the day.

Set out a spread of two flat lines on the back of your boat and two down lines on the front. Seasoned anglers can work even more lines with planner boards, but four lines are usually manageable. 

Set your lines out to the level you mark fish. Always keep a buck tail or other moving lure at the ready to cast to both visible and non-visible fish.

Crappie fishing remains slow — almost too slow to report anything. 

That being said, the best perch will seldom go hungry as they can coax these deeper fish on light lures and line. The best bet for crappie is to fish after dark.

Trout fishing is fair, but most trout waters offer a good possibility of catching a limit, especially during first hour after sunrise. Start out early casting moving lures like a Rapala Countdown, Rooster Tail, Mepps or Yo-Zuri Pinns Minnow in the rapids and just below current breaks underneath the runs.

Live worms, corn or Power Nuggets will catch trout all day long in the deeper pools below the rapids. Just make sure the trout waters you fish allow live bait.

The best advice for fly anglers is to pick your strengths but be willing to change from dry to wet flies during changing conditions or different times of day. Both dry and wet flies have been producing, so keep an open mind.

Bank Fishing: Fishing from the banks is where most anglers get their start. Fishing teaches us many things that have nothing to do with actually catching fish. Roaming the banks will teach kids and adults alike many lessons, and a lot of those will occur before the first cast is made.

Preparation is key in both life and fishing. Not many things are as bad as venturing a football field or more from your home base to discover you left your favorite lure, snack, hat, sunglasses, phone or whatever else behind.

Pack a small box for lures, hooks, bobbers, essentials and a fishing tool with scissors and pliers. Also take some kind of drink – water in a thermos works great. 

If you will be gone for a while, consider packing a granola bar, beef jerky or maybe Vienna Sausages. Sunscreen, insect spray and good walking shoes are also highly advised.

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