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Lake Lanier fishing report: Sunlight good for top-water fishing
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 to 1,067.70 feet, or 3.30 feet below the normal full pool of 1,071. When the lake drops, dock owners have to keep diligent. We must remember that Lake Lanier was built for flood control first. Even with the drought, these levels are a very normal drawdown for this time of year.

Lake temperatures are in the upper 70s. The main lake and creeks mouths are clear to stained. The creeks and rivers are clear to very stained in the backs due to lake turnover. The Chattahoochee River below Buford Dam is very stained, as lake turnover occurs. Check generation schedules before heading out to the river @ 770-945-1466.

Bass: It’s time to go power fishing! The top-water activity we spoke about last week is strong, and things have changed for the better. The bass and stripers are out eating herring and shad on the surface. This is the time of year that bass anglers relish — top-water time!

On a calm day this week, an angler should be able to drive into the neck down areas midway back into the creeks, shut the big motor off and see some surface activity. All you need to do is tie on a big, splashy top-water plug and go fishing.

There are some things to remember about successful top-water fishing on Lake Lanier. You can chase “schoolers” out over open water, but this can be a frustrating prospect. Your odds will increase dramatically if you know where to cast to fish holding brush piles and drop offs beforehand. Knowing where these areas are located involves some searching with your Lowrance Structure Scan. Once you have set a milk run of way point, go check a couple of other areas. After a couple of hours, you can return to the areas you have researched to see if they hold fish.

My top lures this week have not all been traditional top-water lures. Cast a Sammy, Zara Spook, Fluke, Big Bites Jerk Minnow or even the old, reliable SPRO McStick. Target areas over man-made brush and rock drop offs close to points and humps on main lake and in the creeks and rivers. Make sure to spool up with either Sunline Braid or Sunline Natural Monofilament. I like the braid when the fish are hitting far away because it has zero stretch. I compensate by using a parabolic bend Kissel Krafts Custom Crank Bait Rod.

Other lures — like a drop shot rigged with a Big Bites Shakin” Squirrel or a Lanier Bait’s Fruity Worm — are scoring numbers of fish. Casting lures like a Fish Head Spin or even a larger, white and silver Rooster Tail over brush has been producing well.

The night time bite has been good.

Stripers: The thermocline is breaking up, and this has caused a lot of Lake Lanier’s predator fish to break free from the deeper water and herd bait on the surface. That being said, the bigger stripers seem to be lying beneath the smaller fish, picking up wounded or disoriented herring and shad.

Keep a top-water plug ready at all times to cast to surfacing fish. A Redfin on a spinning reel is a very good choice. Other subsurface lures like a SPRO McStick or a SPRO Bucktail may even have better hook up rates then a top-water plug.

Your Lowrance Electronics and keen eyesight will give away the best areas this week. If you see a lot of surface activity, you should have found where the stripers are located. The smaller stripers and bass will drive bait to the surface in the better areas. First use your Lowrance Electronics to determine that the bigger fish are present and drop herring or other live baits on both down and flat lines to the level where you’re marking fish.

Trolling remains a great way to locate and catch fish this week. Run your Captain Mack’s Umbrellas rig or a SPRO Bucktail rigged with a live herring at 10 to 15 feet deep. Run your boat at around 2.5 miles per hour.

Crappie fishing has improved a good deal over the past month. That being said, fishing can still be pretty slow. Get out before daylight or after sun down and cast small jigs or minnows to lighted boat docks.

Fishing has been good on up until about 8:30 or 9 a.m. The fish at night will be shallower in that 5 to 15-foot zone, and the crappie early in the day will move back out into brush from 15 to 25 feet. Use small crappie jigs or try down lining a crappie or medium sized minnow.

Bank Fishing: Hopefully we will get some cooler weather, but understand that fish react as much to shorter daylight hours. All of the food chain is in full effect as the day light hours grow shorter.

Pick your favorite species, and go fishing. A live earthworm is a great, all-around bait. Brim, bass, crappie and even catfish will all eat this popular bait. Set out a soaker hose around your mulch pile or ground cover and allow it to hourly soak the area. Go back in the morning with a shallow trowel, harvest some native red wigglers or night crawlers, and you should have enough bait for the day! You can also purchase live earthworms, but catching them is part of the experience.

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 Remember to take a kid fishing! 

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