Lake Lanier’s water level is 1,068.53 or 2.47 feet below full pool of 1,071. Water temperatures remain in the low 80s except up where the rivers feed into main lake, where the water may be slightly cooler. Lake Lanier is clear on main lake and clear in the rivers and creeks. The Chattahoochee River is clear below Buford Dam. Check generation schedules at 770-945-1466 before heading out to the river.
Bass: Bass fishing has started to change a little as the hours get shorter, but there are plenty of fish that are still biting out on the main lake humps and points. Don’t expect that action to do anything but get better. Some spotted and largemouth bass are showing up in the pockets in the creeks and just off of main lake. Skipping or casting worms on a jig head has been a viable pattern at times.
This summer, the majority of bass have stayed catchable in the right areas. A lot of bass never roamed into the deeper timber like they usually did in past summers. These fish remained where we could catch them over brush and rock piles in relatively shallow water from 30 feet or less deep all summer long. They should remain there well into fall.
Many of the guides have been concentrating on top water and brush pile patterns all day long. If you are trying to catch a good limit of bass, running and gunning may be the ticket, but many anglers find this power technique to be more work than they prefer. Sometimes you can go from zero to hero, but this technique can also work against you if you don’t collide with a wolf pack of spotted bass.
If power fishing is not your game, pick up the old reliable shaky head, drop shot, spinner bait or crank bait and cast or skip them around docks that are located in the mouths of the pockets. Fish from the mouth on midway on into the back of the creeks. The deeper docks in 15 to 25 feet of water are holding some good fish. If rock, brush or even sunken trash is located around the docks, that just sweetens the deal.
Sunken boats, pieces of docks and even lawn chairs often find their way into the water, and they will attract bass just like brush piles do. I remember one day my buddy and I caught three fish off of one plastic lawn chair. We joked that we would have had a great pattern if we could just locate more sunken lawn chairs. Certain docks are better than others. Look for isolated docks, or even the first or last dock in a row will often hold more fish.
The largemouth bass usually remain pretty shallow, but you will catch an occasional bonus fish mixed in the spotted bass on main lake. For the majority of large mouths, start early with a white Lunker Lure Buzz Bait and don’t put it down until the bass quit striking it.
Anglers have had banner days using these top water lures all day long. As the strikes on the buzz bait subside, switch over to flipping and pitching jigs around docks or use a crank bait like a SPRO Little John DD or Fat Papa and crank the lures around shallow secondary humps and points in the back of the creeks.
Stripers: If you are a little older, you may remember that Herman and The Hermits had a song with a verse that said “Second verse, same as the first,” and that is what I think of when I hear and see what the stripers do during summer. The line sides are still eating herring on down lines. Power reeling and trolling continues to work well for catching them too.
One thing that anglers who want to catch stripers really need is quality electronics. The two Humminbird units I own have an eight-inch screen on the console and a 10.4-inch screen on the bow. You may ask why the big unit is up front. It is because when I fish, I have my Minn Kota trolling motor working 100 percent of the time and I want to see the fish and cover that holds fish when the fishing lines are in the water. Many professional anglers run four units at a time, but most anglers have one or two units on their boat. Anglers on a budget can use smaller units and do quite well if they read the manual and absorb the many sources of information that are available on the Internet. If you do not understand your electronics, there are some very good guides that you can hire that will go out in your boat and teach the details about your electronics.
Continue trolling a large SPRO Buck Tails or umbrella rigs on lead core set out to eight or nine colors and run your boat at or just above idle speed at one to two miles per hour. If you are using down lines, make sure you have healthy herring and use your electronics to make sure you are fishing over a school of stripers. Use the same electronics to determine what depth the fish are located. Fish at or slightly above where you see fish on the graph.
Many anglers have had to trigger reaction bites by dropping a live herring to the bottom below the school, then power reeling it as quick as possible on up through the stripers. If you reel up a herring that has been used up, take a chance and try this technique. Usually you want lively herring, but when you power reel, it really does not matter. Think about how humans swipe at flies or bees that get around our face. This will give you an idea why you can trigger reaction strikes from many species of fish by putting a lure or bait directly in front of them.
Crappie: The crappie are starting to react to the shorter days and they are schooled up around large cover like old trees, brush piles and even sunken bamboo. Many anglers set out bamboo around their docks because it lasts and does not snag lures as much as regular brush or Christmas trees. Plus, it just seems to attract these tasty fish. If you can locate this sunken cover, you can load the cooler but you must be adept at fishing deeper cover with jigs or crappie minnows. The crappie that are being caught are heathy and stuffed from feeding on threadfin shad and spot tail minnows.
Trout: This year has been off the charts for catching trout. If you can find a properly stocked stream and get there early in the day, you can do pretty well with just about any technique. Fly fishing, inline spinners, small slender lures like a Rapala Countdown or Yozuri Minnow and live bait like worms, corn and Power Nuggets (where live bait is permitted) are all catching trout. The early angler catches the trout, but if you are on a stream that receives little pressure, the fish should be hungry and will eat a properly presented lure or bait. The afternoons are good for insect hatches, and the fish will bite well from late afternoons to sundown. Just remember you cannot legally fish for trout before sunrise or after sunset.
Bank Fishing: This event is approaching soon. Remember that the DNR and some great companies including Humminbird are sponsoring the Kids Free Fishing Event on Sept. 27 from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. The event will occur at the Lower Pool Park below Buford Dam and is open to all kids age 15 and under. Kids must be accompanied by an adult. Life jackets are highly recommended and are actually required by law for anglers of all ages when wading the river. The Buford Trout Hatchery will stock more than 2,500 Rainbow Trout at the Dam on the morning of the event. A limited number of fishing poles will be available as loaner poles. Hot dogs, drinks and snacks will be provided at no charge.