Lake Lanier temperatures are from the low to mid 60s.
For the first time in a long time, the lake’s water level has fallen just slightly below full pool at 1,070.89 (full pool is 1,071). But no worries, the lake level needs to fall to accommodate the winter and spring rains. The lake is clear and the creeks and rivers are clear to stained.
The Chattahoochee River is very stained below Buford Dam. Check generation schedules before heading out to the river at 770-945-1466.
Bass fishing seems to be changing daily, but some predominate patterns are working along with other methods too. In the mornings, the bass do not seem to be schooling much and we have been throwing jigs and crank baits around rocky banks — both out on main lake and also in the coves.
Rock tends to hold heat, plus crawfish hang out near rocks. Spotted and largemouth bass love a lobster breakfast.
The rocky banks back in the coves and around docks will hold fish all day long.
As the sun rises, try hitting as many main lake humps and points until you find feeding fish. Both bass and stripers have been up schooling on the surface during the day.
These fish are targeting large blueback herring. Use larger lures like a Super Spook, BBZ1 Swimbait, SPRO McStick 115 or other lures that mimic the slender herring on Lake Lanier.
Some of these schooling fish can be hard to pattern, so keep a drop shot tied on to target any fish you see on your Humminbird Electronics. I always pick up a few bonus fish by using my ‘fishing video game’.
Some days, you may have had a hard time finding cooperative schooling bass, so hitting the docks with jighead worms and Jigs is a good backup pattern.
While the schooling fish seem to be bigger overall, there are some decent keepers and an occasional keeper largemouth hanging around the docks.
I skip a Gamakatsu Alien Head equipped with either a Big Bites Finesse Worm or Shakin’ Squirrel or I will throw a Strike King Bitsy Bug under the docks that have bait around them.
Please make sure when fishing docks to be courteous to the land owners and don’t hang up lures or ding their boats.
Most dock owners are fine with you fishing them but if they are tending to dock chores or are also fishing, then move on around to the next dock.
Other patterns can work and you can just about pick up your favorite lure and catch bass on it right now. Live bait are extremely effective and our native spot tails seem to be a spotted bass’ favorite meal.
Most anglers are targeting stripers after dark, but there are some really large bass eating after the sun goes down.
Cast a black spinner bait with a big Colorado blade or a dark colored deep diver like a SPRO Little John Baby DD and work these lures around rocky banks after dark.
Striper fishing remains pretty good for anglers that can find the schools of fish.
As usual, your electronics are key tools for finding suspended schools of stripers that are not schooling on the surface. Also keep a keen eye out for schooling fish. A pair of binoculars comes in very handy for seeing surfacing fish out in the distance.
The schools of stripers we have witnessed feeding on the surface this past week can be seen from a long distance away. They look like someone is throwing multiple cinder blocks into the water. Some of the schools have surfaced and they sounded quickly as they chase the big herring schools.
Others will stay on the surface for a while.
Some days you can throw just about any lure and catch these schooling stripers, while other times they can frustrate anglers when they don’t seem eat anything we cast to them. I have seen fish so thick that I could feel them hitting my line, but they seem to ignore the lure tied to it.
I have had success when this happens by throwing a Larger Bomber Long A, SPRO McStick or bucktail slowly reeled through the school.
One of the biggest mistakes anglers make because they are excited is to take a breath, slow down and concentrate on a proper retrieve. This is rather hard to do when an acre of fish are blowing up around the boat and your heart is pounding.
Always keep a flat lined herring or trout out behind your boat. Down lines are also working when the fish sound and go down lower. The size of these schools is unreal and at times there seems to be thousands of fish that you may see on the surface or below on your electronics screen.
My Humminbird 1158 has almost blacked out at times.
The Bomber Bite after dark has been very good around the islands. Cast a Bomber Long A, Redfin or McStick to the shore and reel it slow and steady back to the boat. Don’t vary your retrieve if you feel a strike until the line gets heavy. Stripers will hit a lure with their mouths closed or slap it with their tail before coming back to eat it.
It takes nerves of steel when you feel these hard strikes not to set the hook. When a striper finally eats it, you will know it.
Crappie fishing is very good for anglers that find the schools of feeding fish. Several methods continue to work well and anglers can catch crappie on a variety of baits and techniques. Trolling Hal Flies and other small lures on multiple poles around the docks and coves where brush is planted will work very well right now.
Watch your electronics. When you catch one crappie, go back over that area multiple times to catch more. These fish travel in schools.
Shooting jigs under docks or around brush will work well. Certain docks hold schools of these tasty critters. Live crappie lures below a bobber or on a straight down line will also work well.
Trout: The River below Buford Dam is still very stained because of the lake turnover, but the fish will still bite. The fishing in the mountain streams and rivers have been very good this year. With the recent rains, live earthworms will work very well.
Make sure to check local regulations for both live bait and to make sure you are fishing a year-round stream or river as some are closed for the season.
Bank Fishing: The fall colors have been beautiful around the Chattahoochee River and in the mountain streams. A lot of the leaves have fallen, but there are still some beautiful colors to see. Trout fishing is very popular for bank anglers. An angler can fish from the shore or can wear waders and fish almost the whole river stream.
One of the preferred methods for bank anglers is to use a live earthworm on a bottom rig. Just take a small hook, thread an earthworm on it so that it covers the whole hook and add a 1/4-ounce split shot and cast it into the pools below the rapids.
Make sure local regulations allow live bait in the area you are fishing. A 4-to 6-pound test is best but a lot of the spin casting reels come pre-rigged with 8–10 pound line. Those also work well. Bank anglers can also cast small Rooster Tails and other small trout lures that perform well.
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. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit his website at aldrichfishing.com.