Lake Lanier’s water level is right around 1,066.80 or 4.20 feet below the normal full pool of 1071. The main lake is clear to stained, and the creeks and rivers are stained. The Chattahoochee River below Buford Dam is clear. Lake temperatures remain in the low 80s. Please check generation schedules before heading out to the river at 770-945-1466.
Bass fishing continues to improve as the first day of fall approaches next week on September 23. The cooler air temperatures are a welcome change for anglers and bass alike. It’s much easier for us anglers to spend a day on the water when the air temperatures are in the upper 70s and lower 80s. When anglers are comfortable, we tend to fish better, and because we fish better, our catch rate goes up.
The bass have started reacting to the cooler water temperatures and shorter days by moving shallower. We have started to see more top water action, and this action will only get better as fall settles in. Keep a top water lure tied on and at the ready, because bass can appear and disappear very quickly. I always undo the rod straps and leave my top water fishing rod ready as I move to the front deck. It is also a good idea to unhook your top water plug and lay the rod across the deck so that you can access it very quickly. The few seconds that it takes to undo your rod straps and prep your rod can be the difference between catching a quality fish and losing a prime opportunity.
This is the time of year where power fishing comes back into play. Start your day casting top water plugs or swim baits out over brush piles on main lake humps and points. Cast a Zara Spook or floating SPRO BBZ1 6-inch trout in blue back herring color over productive brush piles that have deep water close by. Use either a fast “walk the dog” retrieve for the Zara Spook or a medium V-Wake retrieve for the BBZ1. It should only take a few casts to determine if the fish are there and active. Scan the brush piles with your electronics, and if you see fish, drop a jig head worm or drop shot to them or move on to the next location.
The spotted bass have been hitting a variety of lures, so keep several ready and let the fish you catch determine the best pattern for the day. The best lures this week in my Nitro Bass Boat have been a Little John MD or Baby DD and the old reliable drop shot rigged with a Big Bites Shakin’ Squirrel. I have been using them around steep rock and clay banks, and off shore over sunken brush at 15 to 30 feet deep.
The large mouth bass are starting to appear shallow in the backs of the creeks and in the pockets up river. A silver and white Lunker Lure buzz bait or a 3/16th ounce jig and twin tail trailer have been fooling some quality large mouths. Cast these lures to any stumps or trees lying in the water. The buzz bait has been working all day long when the fish are active, while the jig has been better during in active periods.
The after dark bite continues to be the best way to not only catch numbers, but also better quality fish. Try one of the new SPRO RkCrawlers in Red Craw or Phantom Brown or other deep diving crank baits. Work these lures with a slow and steady retrieve, allowing them to bounce off rocks and other obstructions on the bottom. Keep your boat in 20 feet and make long casts at a 45-degree angle to the bank. This will ensure that your lure stays in the productive zone.
Striper fishing remains very good. Quality electronics and your ability to interpret them correctly are essential when the stripers are deep. There are so many ways to get information about your electronics. Read your manuals, attend free seminars at local tackle retailers, watch YouTube videos or hire a guide. With all of the resources available, you should easily be able to master your fish finders.
There have been some huge schools of striped bass in the mouths of the creeks and down lake by Buford Dam. Check the area near to the river and creek channels from 50 to 110 feet deep. Continue to down line blue back herring on a modified Carolina rig with a 1 to 2 ounce weight and a long fluorocarbon leader. Stripers seem to become more line shy as the season progresses, so don’t be afraid to use a six foot or longer leader on your down lines. Drop your down lines to just above the level that you mark fish.
Some days, the schools will be so thick that the arcs or wavy lines that indicate fish will span over 30 feet up and down. In this case, drop your lines directly in the middle of the school. Most days, the larger stripers will be deeper than the smaller fish, but that is not always the case. Set out one or two rods shallow and another two deeper, and see what works best for that particular day.
There has been a lot of Internet chatter about the Ben Parker Spoon. These spoons are available in 6 to 9 inch sizes, and they may be hard to find. There are other spoons available that will probably work just as well. Use natural colors like silvers, whites, blues or others with prism tape.
If you have ever seen some of the larger blue backs in Lake Lanier, it should be no mystery why stripers would be attracted to the lures. Fishing with these spoons is pretty easy. Just drop them to the bottom and hop a few times, then reel quickly back up the school of stripers that you see on your electronics. Spoons do snag, so try switching out the stock hooks for Gamakatsu Round Bend hooks and use heavy line. These spoons are expensive, and if you use the lighter wire hooks, you can just apply a steady pull when snagged and 90 percent of the time the hooks will bend releasing your $10 to $20 dollar lure.
Trolling a large SPRO Bucktail or an Umbrella Rig has been a great way to not only cover water while you search for the large schools of fish. It has also been coaxing some of the better bites, too.
Crappie fishing is just fair, but it will improve greatly as the cooler weather approaches. Work small crappie jigs or split shot with live minnows around brush and docks in the pockets and towards the back of the creeks and rivers. The crappie will be deeper down lake where the water is clear and shallower up lake where the water is stained. Use your electronics to determine what depth to set your lines.
These tasty critters are also suckers for lighted boat docks or Hydro Glow lights, set out around the bridges by nighttime anglers. Fish the areas where the lights fade off into the dark. Predator fish like crappie, bass and stripers often hang around, but are directly in the lights as they ambush minnows.
Trout: Jeff Durniak, the North Georgia Region Fisheries Supervisor at the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, tells anglers, “Hit remote or rugged sections of our most heavily stocked streams and fish fast through them (two casts to a spot, then step upstream) to have a fine fall harvest of the stocking season’s leftovers. All one million trout we’ve stocked haven’t been found and caught yet, so go hunt them down. Just remember to cover a lot of ground. Best bets: lower Holcomb, Tallulah, Wildcat between the campgrounds, lower Warwoman, Cooper in the Scenic Area, lower Rock, away from the road, Hooch at Jones Bridge, and the upper half of Blue Ridge Tailwater.”
Take your kids to the free kids fishing event on Sept. 26 at the Lower Pool Park below Buford Dam from 9 a.m. till 1 p.m. There will be volunteers there to help teach the kids about trout fishing. Hot dogs, drinks and snacks will be provided at no charge.
Bank Fishing: As the cooler weather approaches, fishing from the banks will heat up. This is a prime time to get out to one of the many parks around Lake Lanier for some productive fishing around the shore. It is a great time to pack a family picnic basket, dig up or buy some worms and take everyone fishing.
You don’t need a 70 MPH bass boat or $20,000 worth of tackle and fish finders. Many of the local tackle and retail stores sell decent reel and rod combinations, and many of these come prepackaged with small lures, line, hooks and bobbers. Many anglers were introduced to this sport with nothing more than a natural bamboo pole, some line and a bobber and hook with an earthworm or cricket as bait. Get outdoors and enjoy the weather this week with your family, friends and/or spouse while the weather is great!
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. I would love to hear from our readers so please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit my website at aldrichfishing.com or lakelanierfishing.info. Remember to take a kid fishing!