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Lake Lanier Fishing Report: Aim for docks, brush to catch most crappie
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Lake temperatures are in the mid to upper 70s. Lake Lanier’s water level is around 1,071.74 or .74 feet above a full pool of 1,071. The lake is clear. The creeks and rivers are clear in the mouths to stained in the backs. The Chattahoochee River is clear. Check generation schedules before heading out to the river at 770-945-1466.

A note to all readers: The Camp Sunshine charity tournament is noon to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at Laurel Park in Gainesville.

This annual fishing tournament benefits Camp Sunshine. Saturday includes fun for the whole family, even if you don’t fish, with arts and crafts, face painting and a moonwalk. The grand prize for the tournament is a boat, along with a motor and trailer, to the best team after two days. Stop me and say hello if you see me in my yellow and black Nitro Jersey.

Bass fishing has varied between fair to great depending on whom you speak with. It also depends on the weather conditions for that day.

The recent rains have slowed the topwater bite a little, but we have encountered schooling spotted bass and stripers as they coral blueback herring on the surface.

Lake Lanier’s topwater action actually improves later in the afternoon on sunny days.

We have started our fishing days early in the morning with slower presentations, like vertical fishing with a drop shot, jigs or jig head worms around boat docks or in brush piles at depths of 5-25 feet deep.

This fishing can work all day long and these shallower areas often produce largemouth bass. The largemouth population on Lake Lanier is as good as I have seen it in the 40-plus years that I have fished the lake.

Anglers who target largemouth bass have a great chance to win tournaments, or at least earn bragging rights with their friends.

As the day progresses, keep an open mind and be prepared to change your fishing tactics as the bass tell you to.

We have had great fishing one day on the main lake points and near the river channels, only to return to these same areas to find them void of activity the next day.

This has dictated a run-and-gun game plan as we hit as many as 30, or more, areas in a single day. The bass are chasing schools of shad and blueback herring and these baitfish move around a lot. Be prepared to run and gun until you locate the active schools of spotted bass.

Even when you locate active fish, you may need to switch lures from what worked on previous days. Swim baits like a SPRO 6-Inch BBZ1 or Sebile Magic Swimmer worked with a v-wake retrieve on the surface can yield some ferocious strikes.

Other surface lures like a Sammy, Zara Spook or Chug Bug are also worth a try. Subsurface lures may work better some days, so keep a SPRO McStick 110, Smithwick Rogue or a medium running crank bait ready. Flukes, Jerk Shads, SPRO Buck Tails and even Fish Head

Spins are all good lures to use when targeting schools of spotted bass.

Schooling spotted bass are starting to show up in the creeks and out on the main lake.

These fish are eating the larger, faster moving blueback herring and it can be a challenge to catch them because they move so fast. Bass can surface right in front of your boat one moment, only to resurface 1,000 yards away in a matter of minutes.

If you can land a lure into the fray, you may hook up with a big Lake Lanier spotted bass. We have even caught two fish on one lure and one cast this past week.

Stripers: When targeting Lake Lanier’s abundant striper population, blueback herring or gizzard shad are great choices for anglers to use for bait.

Both flat and down lines will work based on where the fish are positioned in the water column this week.

Big bluebacks and the larger gizzard shad provide a full meal. Stripers will work hard to track down this larger forage.

We have witnessed some big schools of stripers exploding out in the creek mouths and main lake humps and points near the river channels.

At times, these fish look like cinder blocks are falling from the sky splashing into the water. It can be hard for an angler to make an accurate cast when these fish appear suddenly on the surface. It pays to have a rod and lure ready at all times and to take a breath and calm down before casting.

Many times, I have backlashed a reel with an overzealous cast because the fish were blowing up all around the boat.

Fishing with topwater plugs for stripers is about as fun as it gets, but many anglers are having great success pulling live bait and trolling umbrella rigs.

Use your electronics to get an idea of where the fish are located in the water column and set out your live baits or trolled lures at that depth.

Also, keep a keen eye out for any surface activity and you may be able to cast to fish from the front of the boat, while getting strikes on your live bait being pulled out back.

Crappie fishing is picking up.

Continue to troll or spider rig small crappie jigs tipped with minnows with multiple rods midway back into the creeks and pockets. Docks that have brush, brush piles on the creek bends and bridge pilings are all worth trying this week as fall signals better catches.

Fishing with lights around the bridges after dark will also work well and will only get better as the season progresses.

Trout: 2013 has been a banner year for trout fishing and this week is no different. A Yo Suri Pins Minnows, Rapala or small in line spinners work well.

If live bait is permitted in the water you are fishing, then try a live red wiggler on light line with a small Gamakatsu hook tied on 2-3 feet below a 1/4-ounce split shot. With the recent rain, the trout will be looking for worms that have washed into the creeks and rivers.

Bank fishing is working for many species.

Use small lures like a Rooster Tails or small, crank baits like a No. 5 Shad Rap or a Bandit 200. Cast out in small lakes, streams and even larger reservoirs like Lake Lanier to catch a variety of species like bream, crappie, bass and other predator species.

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 or visit his website at

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